The Tampa City Council voted 6-1 to pass an ordinance that will make possession of small amounts of marijuana within city limits a non-criminal offense.
Under the new ordinance, possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less would be punishable by a civil citation. If you're caught with a small amount of marijuana, you would have to pay a $75 fine the first time. If you're caught again, the fines would increase by $150 each time.
Police say you could still be handcuffed and they would confiscate the marijuana, but offenders wouldn't face any sort of criminal record.
That's something criminal defense attorney Howard Iken says is a good thing. He says finally, reality and politics are catching up with public opinion.
"I believe the consequences of a minor violation, such as possession of marijuana, have far reaching consequences, a lot more than it did years ago and everyone has the potential to take away your job prospects, ruin your career, ruin your future," he said. "And now it’s worse than ever because of the Internet any minor violation, anything, is now spread across the Internet you can’t escape it, and in the case of marijuana, it’s far over proportional to what the person actually did."
Councilmember Charlie Miranda was the only one to vote against the ordinance.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn still has to sign off on the new law before it goes into effect.