By: Kevin O’Neil
On March 3, the Tampa City Council, after hearing 30 minutes of public comment, passed a new Pot Citation Ordinance. The new law makes it a citation, instead of a crime, for possession of less than 20 grams of pot, with a fine of $75, and incrementally raising the fine to $150, then $150 increments up for each successive citation. Certainly, this is a win for the people and visitors of Tampa, and a positive governmental action in-line with the Libertarian Party of Florida’s platform regarding vice.
Excerpt from LPF Platform, Section 5-Vice Laws. “…We oppose all laws and regulations that attempt to protect individuals from the consequences of their own behavior. While not necessarily condoning such activities, we advocate the repeal of all laws criminalizing gambling, possession and sale of drugs, and sexual relations between consenting adults…”
The Mayor of Tampa, along with the Chief of Police, has both been on record in recent days supporting the ordinance. The Mayor is expected to sign the ordinance into effect on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Another public hearing is scheduled prior to the Mayor’s signing.
The vote was 6 to 1, with Councilman Charlie Miranda opposed. Mr. Miranda has had 3 stints on the Tampa City Council, dating as far back as 1974. His present stint is an at-large councilman.
The Central Florida Chapter of NORML has been ever present at related hearings, and has provided many public speakers and figures for the Council to consider.
It is likely that Tampa’s new ordinance, along with similar styled ordinances in St. Petersburg City, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, will serve as new test cases on how partial repeal of drug possession pot laws have improved the lives of users and their families, along with policing budgets and court expenditures.
There were 42 ballot initiatives for this November Election, and two obtained the proper number of signatures. Number two, is a Constitutional amendment to legalize Marijuana for medicinal uses. We hope the Tampa ordinance will help give momentous support to the ballot this November.
No doubt, this is progress and a visible marker politically that from the bottom up, a rising level of voices are demanding change in this inhumane legacy “Drug War” law. The history on inhumane drug laws date back to President Rockefeller, and we have hundreds of souls in cages that produced units of drug for their own consumption, only to be sentenced as if they were dealing to thousands, and spending that kind of time in prison. Victim-less criminals are victims themselves, along with their families and the tax payers. The only winners are the prison industries and the employed jailers.
No relief is being argued here for multi-count criminals with true victims in their wake – for the record.
Tampa has had Police Knock-Raids that have resulted in civilian murder, with law enforcement having nothing to show but a single joint of pot. This is another result of the marketplace of NARCs that attempt to lessen their own plea-bargain sentence by a resultant lead to an additional arrest. I am certain the City will payout millions on this disaster.
Good people, like many of us reading this, need to and are standing up to act, to do something to keep our freedoms and liberties. Hillsborough, like many other counties, has a candidate committee filing deadline of mid-May. If you want to make the noble statement and run for office, contact your SEO or local affiliate today, and get your candidacy properly registered. We need you! You are invited to step-up and make this love of ours a reality. Run For Office!!
|Kevin O’Neil is a community activist in Tampa, a member of LPF Communications Committee and Executive Committee Member of the Hillsborough Affiliate of LPF. Father of 2 boys and employed as an analyst, Kevin completed Mechanical Engineering and MBA degrees. He aspires to get candidates elected to office that are libertarian.|