SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Getting caught with small amounts of marijuana in Sarasota may not be grounds for an arrest if a city proposal passes.
Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody presented the proposal Monday. He says people who are caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana should be issued civil citations.
The City of Tampa implemented the same rule in 2016.
According to Brody, by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, law enforcement agencies and the local court systems can focus on issues deemed more pressing.
"The criminal justice system has a finite number of resources," Commissioner Broday said. "Anytime you can take an opportunity to divert resources away to more pressing issues and, I think, more violent issues and violent crime, you are enabling law enforcement to focus on those things."
Under the proposal, police officers would have the authority to decide whether to issue a civil or criminal citation to offenders.
Some commissioners and members of the public said that kind of discretion can be problematic, arguing everyone who fits the criteria should be treated fairly.
Overall, commissioners said they are open to the proposal but would like to evaluate it closer.