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Second Jacksonville City Council panel rejects marijuana civil citations

“You all don’t know what marijuana smells like”

On Tuesday, a second Jacksonville City Council committee “just said no” to cannabis civil citations. This was a 3-4 vote.

The bill failed in the Neighborhoods committee on Monday,

The bill, carried by Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, was DOA, despite decriminalization polling at 84 percent locally. And despite the state moving toward a discussion of outright legalization.

The second-term Democrat noted the difficulty of searches in the hemp legalization era, saying “sniff and search” was a thing of the past.

Dennis noted that more than a million dollars a year was spent in Duval County processing weed arrests; however, those and other tropes failed to move the Rules Committee.

“I know you all don’t know what marijuana smells like,” Dennis said while passing around a jar of hemp.

Just as was the case Monday in Finance, and has been the case in Jacksonville since Charlotte’s Web became legal, the Council committee urged caution.

Republican Rory Diamond likes “the spirit of the bill,” but with the Sheriff and State Attorney not offering support, he can’t back it.

Republican Randy DeFoor, like Diamond a Mayor Lenny Curry ally, wanted a deep dive into “data,” and urged an “intervention component.” DeFoor shared concerns about the absence of law enforcement.

Republican Michael Boylan noted that Public Defender Charles Cofer and at least one member of the State Attorney’s Office is on record supporting the bill.

Democrat Brenda Priestly-Jackson did offer support, noting that the Dennis bill offers officer discretion.

Dennis has contended that Sheriff Mike Williams supports the bill conceptually but can’t handle the heavy lift of decriminalization; hence, the “civil citation alternative.”

“If we defer this and get the Sheriff on the next committee meeting,” Dennis said, “I’m good with that.”

The bill was not deferred but voted down.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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