The makers of Cocaine Cowboys and The U are teaming up with a leading pro-marijuana activist to get Miami Beach Police to issue tickets to people caught with a small amount of marijuana in lieu of sending them to jail.
During an interview at the documentary company's new HQ off Arthur Godfrey Road, Rakontur honcho Alfred Spellman and Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy chairman Ford Banister laid out their plans to make it somewhat legal to smoke cheeba in the land Carl Fisher built.
The committee will mount a petition drive to amend the Miami Beach city charter to allow
police to issue a $100 civil fine for individuals caught with less than 20
grams of marijuana instead of criminal misdemeanor charges. Rakontur is helping with logistics and the lay of the land. In order to put the initiative on the November ballot, 4,240 signed petitions from
Miami Beach residents must be collected by the end of August.
"If it succeeds, Miami Beach would be the first city in the south to decriminalize marijuana," Banister says. "This is the way to do it."
I'm not going to regurgitate the many reasons the prohibition against pot is so dumb. The American public is beginning to come around, as evidenced by the upcoming vote to make recreational marijuana use completely legal in California and recent ballot initiatives in Michigan and New Jersey that opened the door for medical weed use.
I've always argued that if the New Testament contained passages of Jesus Christ turning a shrub into a bushel of some mad O.G. Hollywood Kush, then marijuana would be absolutely legal in America. But we can thank the right-wing elements and those God-fearing politicians beholden to the pharmaceutical industry for keeping people from growing and smoking the fine herb without fear of police harrassment.
It won't be easy for the committee and Rakontur. As Banister noted, $1.9 billion a year is spent on drug law enforcement in Florida. You can bet a sizable chunk comes from efforts to eradicate marijuana grow houses in Miami-Dade County, which ranks number one in pot labs in the state. So I wouldn't be surprised if the police unions mount an aggressive counter-campaign.
The petition drive begins tonight after a 7 p.m. news conference in front of Miami Beach City Hall.