Stop Jailing Pot Smokers And Let's Go After The Real Criminals

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke -- who is a candidate to replace more-boring-than-bread-pudding ex-Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez -- makes a campaign promise that will light up county residents.

Once I am elected mayor, I am going to ease up on marijuana enforcement. Folks caught holding 20 grams or less won't have to go to jail. We have bigger problems. These arrests will be a low priority. This should allow police to tackle problems -- such as violent street crime, mortgage fraud, and public corruption -- that have kept Miami-Dade down for too long.

I will also support a ballot measure that would classify possession as an infraction, which amounts to a speeding ticket.

As the largest county in the state, Miami-Dade needs to take the lead in reforming Florida's hard stance against marijuana. After all, we are the second largest pot-producing state after California.

And last year, before leaving office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a Republican -- signed a law that allows cops to issue a $100 ticket instead of arresting a person for pot possession. The Terminator went on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno afterward and said, "No one cares if you smoke a joint or not." He is absolutely right.

A similar law was passed in Massachusetts in 2009. Last year, a pro-marijuana group called Sensible Florida almost got a measure to decriminalize small amounts of pot possession on the ballot in Miami Beach. The organization is still at it too, gathering close to all the signatures needed to let the voters decide.

Plus a University of New Hampshire study published last year by the Journal of Health and Social Behavior drew an interesting conclusion: The idea that marijuana use leads to harder drug use is overblown. The study surveyed 1,286 young adults who had been enrolled in Miami-Dade public schools in the '90s.

I'm not a toker or a smoker, but I know that arresting people for holding a dime bag only fills prisons and lines the pockets of Gov. Rick Scott's buddies in the private prison business. This policy will allow folks busted for pot possession to find jobs. Any arrest on your record can keep employers from hiring you. We need to focus on getting people to work, not nailing them for nothing.

Follow Luther Campbell on Twitter at: @unclelukereal1.

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