Sentiment still mixed as some celebrate 4/20

- On a day of celebrating marijuana, demonstrations were held both for and against pot in Tampa Bay.

For some marijuana users, April 20 has become a holiday. In recent years, it's turned into a day of celebrating the legalization of marijuana in some states, and a day of demonstration in others that have not passed similar laws.

A pot festival was held at Williams Park in St Petersburg on Wednesday. The city will consider decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana during a meeting on April 28.

"My colleagues on council have all been very open to the idea. It's not that any of us think marijuana is good for people to use or that we recommend it," said St Pete Councilman Steve Kornell, "It's that clearly there are some racial disparities in the way sentences are handed out, and we think it's a matter of fairness."

Jabbar Edmond, who attended Wednesday's festival, can relate after being charged with possession of marijuana in his youth.

"I was looking to join the army. At one time, I was actually looking to become a lawyer. A lot of those dreams were kind of pushed back because of my criminal record," said Edmond.

As of April 1, a Tampa ordinance allows people caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana to walk away with just a ticket and a fine. Orlando City Council passed a similar measure on Monday.

A group against the legalization of pot in Florida, medicinal or otherwise, held signs at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday to spread their message.

"It's a dangerous drug; it's not a medicine, and there's no medical association behind this legalization push," said Teresa Miller with No2Pot.

Opponents of legalization argue that marijuana can be a gateway drug to other, more dangerous drugs. Edmond said marijuana never led him to commit other crimes, but rather, the charges that followed after using marijuana are what had the most lasting impact on his life.

"The marijuana charge was more of a gateway to crime life," said Edmond. "If I would have gotten a civil citation or something, the second chance would have made me realize the error in my ways. Once you realize the error in your ways, you can't correct a felony off of your record."

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana continue to petition across the state of Florida. If they gather enough support, the issue could be on the 2016 ballot.

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