Jacksonville city leaders scrap bill to decriminalize marijuana


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After several public meetings, debate, and hearing from people on both sides of the issue, Jacksonville City Council has rejected the plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Council members overwhelmingly rejected the idea -- voting 15-3 against the measure.

The bill would have decriminalized 20 grams or less of marijuana for a person 18 and older.

Councilman Garrett Dennis introduced the bill in May and held several meetings​​​​​​​ to rally support for it. In the end, it wasn't enough to sway most of the other council members Tuesday night.

According to Dennis, 86% of people in Duval County support the idea. Dennis has long said many other counties and cities in Florida have approved similar legislation.

"This is the right thing to do. It's costing our city millions of dollars every year to prosecute, to arrest individuals with small amounts of marijuana. It's not addictive, it's not a gateway drug, and we will not be the only county and city in the state of Florida," Dennis said in July.

He believes handing out a citation and $100 fine for small amounts of pot is a better alternative to arresting people.

Possession of marijuana is illegal in Florida without a prescription. According to state law, having 20 grams or less of it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Notably, the bill does not have the support of Sheriff Mike Williams.

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