Tampa City Council votes to decriminalize small amounts of pot

- Tampa City Council voted nearly unanimously this morning to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Currently, anyone caught with pot can face up to one year in prison or a $1,000 fine. They can also lose their driver’s license for up to two years.
    
Under the new ordinance, police would have the option of issuing citations to anyone caught with 20 grams or less on their person. The citations would be similar to traffic tickets, and would carry a small fine and require mandatory drug counseling.

The first offense would result in a $75 fine. That increases to $250 for a second offense, $300 for a third and $450 for a fourth offense.

The same fine would apply for possession of drug paraphernalia like a pipe or bong with trace amounts of marijuana. Offenders would have 30 days to pay the fine.

The vote came after Tampa City Council first read the proposed ordinance earlier this month.  Charlie Miranda was the only councilmember to vote no.

The mayor still needs to sign the ordinance into law, but a spokesperson for Mayor Bob Buckhorn told FOX 13's Evan Lambert that he intends to do so in the coming days.

Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have already passed similar measures.

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