So far, the race for Miami-Dade Mayor is gonna be a snooze fest. There is not much separating incumbent Carlos Gimenez and his main challenger, County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez. At a recent candidate's forum hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the opponents both agreed on streamlining the county's permitting process for new businesses, redeveloping the Miami Beach Convention Center, and that they don't oppose casino gambling. Talk about subject matter that makes us want a nap.
Gimenez has been criticized for lacking vision. Well, there's one way to change that perception. We're here to tell him to follow New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's lead and come out in favor of marijuana decriminalization in Florida. The New York Times reports that Bloomberg would support a proposal by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to significantly lower the number of people who could be arrested for small amounts of marijuana possession as a result of police stops.
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Gimenez should push Florida Gov. Rick Scott to do the same. Decriminalizing pot possession would go a long way to ending tactical police operations like Santa's Helper, in which Miami-Dade Police officers spend significant taxpayer resources arresting individuals for holding less than one gram of pot. In most cases, those arrested serve less than a day in jail and are hit with fines that go unpaid.
Cuomo's proposal mirrors other legislation passed in other states like Massachusetts, which downgraded possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation, with a maximum fine of $100 for first-time offenders.
Two years ago, a group of pro-marijuana advocates collected signatures for a petition to pass a similar law in Miami Beach. However, the city attorney has stalled the effort by claiming the signatures are not valid.