Just eight days after the Miami-Dade County Commission passed its own version of a similar ordinance, Miami Beach commissioners have also passed a law that allows police to issue a $100 ticket to people found with 20 grams or less of marijuana on their person instead of arresting them. The commission passed the ordinance unanimously in a 5-0 vote.
Although the county ordinance already applies to all Miami-Dade municipalities, including Miami Beach, the passage of Miami Beach's own law ensures that the city, not the county, gets to keep the money collected from the fines. It also signals that the Miami Beach Police Department will go along with the new law. Remember, the county ordinance only gives police the option to issue a ticket. It's still up to the individual departments as to how exactly that's enforced.
According to the Miami Herald, MBPD Chief Dan Oates has said that he will instruct his officers to still make arrests under a few situations: If the person is smoking in public, if it's found in a car, in connection with another crime, or packaged in a way that indicates it is going to be sold.
The ordinance is estimated to save the city about $40,000 a year.
CBS4's Jim DeFede previously found that about 10 percent of all cases filed in Miami-Dade Criminal Court are for misdemeanor marijuana arrests, which seriously clogs the court system. Black defendants were found to account 55 percent of those cases, despite the fact that Miami-Dade is only 20 percent black and numerous studies have found there's no significant difference in rates of marijuana use between blacks and whites.