The process of decriminalization of marijuana in Florida is slow, but occurring. In all there are 14, counties, cities, and/or municipalities that have passed ordinances that give police officers the option to issue civil citations or fines rather than arrest a person who is caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana. It is important to note that in these cities or counties, the choice still lies with the individual officer whether to issue the citation or make an arrest for misdemeanor possession. Each place’s ordinance varies, so it is important to read the specific ordinance. Below is a list of places thus far that have passed such ordinances with links to more specific information about the ordinances.
On a national level, twenty states have enacted legislation decriminalizing possession under specific circumstances. However, in Florida, there has been a resistance among the voters at the state level. Arguments for decriminalization include: 1) law enforcement should use their time going after much more serious matters and criminalization is expensive, including the cost of prosecution, 2) the idea that legalization would lead to higher crime has been rebutted by data in Colorado, 3) marijuana is (relatively) harmless, and 4) minorities are arrested and charged for possession at a much higher rate than whites.
Here in Polk County, possession of marijuana is still aggressively prosecuted as a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are in possession of less than 20 grams, you can face up to 365 days in Polk County Jail.