A new City Council ordinance could soon decriminalize possession of marijuana up to 20 grams in Orlando, but within the lines of UCFPD jurisdiction, the possible changes would be non-impacting.
UCFPD operates under state statutes and internal sanctions, making the City of Orlando ordinance obsolete on-campus.
However, UCFPD Captain Richard Beary said that, as it stands, the department makes very few arrests for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
“We usually like to take an educational approach by sending students to Student Conduct,” he said. “We find that to be a very good alternative to arrest because it benefits the students.”
The ordinance will be considered at an Orlando City Council meeting to be held on Monday, and if enacted, would make possession of 20 grams or less a violation of city code, punishable by a $50 fine for first-time offenders.
“Sometimes because of youthful mistakes our at-risk young people enter the criminal justice system for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer in a statement. “By giving our officers the ability to issue a citation for small amounts of marijuana, this is another way the City is working to provide those facing challenges opportunities for advancement.”
Mayor Dyer added that the change in policy would, not only allow for the protection of Orlando youth, but also increase efficiency in the use of limited resources.
Marco Michilli, a UCF student and director of communication for UCF’s marijuana advocacy group Norml, echoed the mayor’s sentiments, saying that the ordinance would decrease the amount of taxpayer money that goes into arresting non-violent offenders.
“The most noticeable impact would be that Orlando police officers wouldn't be wasting so much time arresting nonviolent citizens,” he said. “Instead of arresting, transporting, processing, detailing, prosecuting, incarcerating... It would be a just a simple citation, like a parking ticket.”
The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday in the City Hall Council Chambers.
Daniela Marin is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.