Puff, puff, pass? Second time around for Jacksonville cannabis decriminalization push

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A similar bill failed by a lopsided vote in 2019.

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.

When Dennis pitched the bill a year ago, he met immediate on-record resistance, including “questions and concerns” from Council colleagues, and outright opposition from the Mayor and Sheriff.

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.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. 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 [email protected]


  • Sonja Fitch

    October 9, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    It is in the air! The smell of common sense and common good in Jacksonville! Looting Lenny has been humbled by his fumbles ! Rutherford screwed up
    JSO with his racist bs! Rutherford is being very suave about his loyalty to the goptrump cult sociopath Trump! But the big Blue Wave is going to wash away Rutherford and Byrd! There it is again! The smell of common good and common sense in Jacksonville !

  • KW

    October 9, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Legalizing reduces crime.

  • martin

    October 10, 2020 at 6:29 am

    of course the “sheriff” will object every time. Pot arrests bring in extra additional federal and state aid (read…money).

    All this talk about equal justice is simply just talk. How many lives have been ruined because a young kid was arrested for being in possession of single joint? The police really do need to set priorities. Focus on stopping and solving real crimes, not arresting people for pot use.

    20 years into the new century, and they still think like dinosaurs.

  • Donna

    October 10, 2020 at 9:32 am

    It helps so much with anxiety most of the young people these days are on medication for anxiety like Xanax bad stuff with marijuana you could get the same as afect without having to get addicted to pills.

  • Karma

    October 11, 2020 at 12:40 am

    Dennis must smoke pot, that is why he wants it legal? As far as Rutherford and Byrd, they will win easily, as will President Trump, who will take Florida and Georgia.. Karma is hitting back at the Hazouri’s.

  • Debbie

    October 14, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I think it would be a good idea legalize it..and make it recreational would even be better..I would rather have a few puffs and it makes life much easier..especially if you have anxiety as I do.i would rather smoke a little than take a pill that will most likely be addictive..and its all down hill from there…

Comments are closed.


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