A bill that would decriminalize small-scale possession of cannabis, rejected by the Jacksonville City Council a year ago, is back for the board’s consideration.
The sponsor thinks the time may be right now, after a season of social upheaval and assurances from his colleagues that “social justice” may drive the debate this time around.
“Last year, I advanced civil citation legislation, which did not receive the support required from my colleagues to become law,” asserted Councilman Garrett Dennis. “Under the leadership of Council President Tommy Hazouri, the City Council has a heightened focus on social justice.”
“After another year of continuing to observe other municipalities take similar action, it’s time we revisit this very critical issue in Jacksonville. I look forward to robust public discussion with my colleagues and community input,” Dennis added.
The bill would allow for civil citations or community service penalties, rather than jail time, for simple cannabis possession of less than 20 grams of the substance.
Try as he did to resolve those qualms, he was unsuccessful despite decriminalization polling at 84% locally.
Council members had myriad concerns.
“We all started with that one sniff,” Democrat Reggie Gaffney said in a committee meeting. “My biggest fear: once you start something, people want to try more and more and more.”
Republican Al Ferraro had qualms, saying legalizing small-scale possession of the plant would make conditions worse in troubled neighborhoods.
“It’s going to attract more … in these areas crying for help. Please do whatever you can to stop this from coming,” Ferraro said.
Jacksonville’s Council is bucking a decriminalization trend throughout the state, with numerous county and local governments around the state of Florida decriminalizing cannabis.