Miami Beach, Florida voters may get a chance to vote on decriminalizing marijuana this fall, making it the first city in South Florida to reduce the penalty for pot to a $100 fine instead of criminal charges.
Sensible Florida (Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy), a group which works to legalize cannabis, said it has collected more than double the number of signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot, reports Tim Elfrink at Miami New Times; normally, doubling the required number all-but-ensures that enough valid names are present to qualify.
The group said it will present 9,000 signatures at Miami Beach City Hall on Wednesday, July 13.
|Photo: The Lead Miami Beach|
|Ford Banister, Sensible Florida: “It’s a great day for the marijuana legalization movement in Florida”|
”It’s a great day for the marijuana legalization movement in Florida,” said the group’s Chairman Ford Banister. “For the first time, Florida voters will soon decide a marijuana related question.”
Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, the director and producer of Cocaine Cowboys and Square Grouper — a film about the South Florida marijuana trade in the 1970s and ’80s — has contributed thousands of dollars and publically backed the efforts of Sensible Florida, reports Perry Stein at The Miami Herald.
Spellman said the vote will be a chance for Miami Beach residents to decide if they want to stop pursuing a “failed war on drugs.”
“Is it in the public interest to arrest, detain and process somebody in the system for small amounts of marijuana?” asked Spellman. “Is that what we want cops, prosecutors and investigators to be focusing on?”
Victory Rally Planned for 4:20 Wednesday, July 13, Miami Beach City Hall
If at least 4,300 of the group’s 9,000 signatures are valid, a citywide vote on the issue will take place in November.
The group is staging a victory rally at Miami Beach City Hall at 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We are working to generate a huge crowd for this historic event,” said campaign organizer Eric Stevens of Sensible Florida. “We need to get as many people as possible at the rally.”
“One of our plans is to have planes with banners flying all around Miami Beach to let people know that this is happening,” Stevens said. “Imagine how cool it would be to see a plane flying overhead announcing a marijuana rally at City Hall on Miami Beach as we work to present the voices of thousands of people who signed the petition to change the marijuana laws!”
Florida NORML, People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Sensible Florida Miami Beach, and others have all worked hard for more than a year to make this event happen, activist/Black Tuna Diaries author Robert Platshorn, one of the 1970s marijuana smugglers featured in the film Square Grouper, told Toke of the Town on Monday.