West Palm Beach Decriminalizes Marijuana

The marijuana legalization movement in Florida continues to build momentum as West Palm Beach decriminalizes cannabis possession. So far, 2015 has demonstrated that Florida law makers are steadily progressing towards statewide legalization in 2016. Despite Amendment 2 (Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative) not being passed in 2014 by a narrow margin, the 58% approval vote was enough to indicate to state officials that cannabis legalization is inevitable.

The city commission voted unanimously on Tuesday. From now on, any adult who is found with possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less will likely receive a $100 fine instead of being taken to prison.  Minors who get caught with possession of cannabis will be detained and given the option to enter the First Offender Program. Once the program is complete, the minor’s criminal record will be erased and fingerprint records will be discarded.

City officials claim that the motive for their decision is to reduce the number of arrests that are linked to possession of low amounts of cannabis. The aftermath of a cannabis-possession arrest can be a costly and long process to endure, so city officials felt that decriminalization would spare otherwise law-abiding citizens from such an unfortunate situation.

The momentum that marijuana legalization has gained throughout the nation is significantly influencing the decision of other states to legalize. Florida Democratic Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda of House District 9 is currently sponsoring HB 4021. The House Bill looks to remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances. Cannabis is currently a Schedule 2 drug and Representative Vasilinda is looking to remove any classification of cannabis as a controlled substance.

The cannabis industry has undeniably become a profitable solution for states looking to increase tax revenues. In reference to cannabis, the State of Colorado established a 2.9% retail sales tax, a 10% retail marijuana special sales tax and a 15% marijuana excise tax for marijuana businesses. The State reported $12.8 million dollars of tax revenue for the month of July. That’s 73% more than was reported for July in 2014 ($7.4 million).

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