Belle Glade Sun

Will pot possession no longer be a crime in Palm Beach County?


The Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners is continuing a public hearing on reducing the penalty for possession of marijuana to a meeting in December.

If approved, the measure, which is being recommended by county staff, would essentially decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Palm Beach County in favor of a civil citation and a fine – meaning that people caught with lesser amounts of marijuana would no longer go to jail.

It is that fact that is driving the push for approval.

Proponents of the measure argue that the decriminalization of possession of marijuana — that now accounts for a large number of arrests each year, including many here in Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay — would bring some relief to local jails. Opponents say the adoption of the lesser civil fine fear more rampant drug use if it is implemented.

The measure would allow law enforcement officers to issue the civil fine of $100, or the performance of community service for anyone 18 or older in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana and/or marijuana drug paraphernalia.

A similar measure has already been adopted by Miami-Dade and the city of West Palm Beach.

The county commissioners will be reviewing the item on December 15, when it is expected a final vote will be taken on the issue.