COCOA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - An ordinance that would allow officers to issue civil citations instead of criminal charges in minor marijuana charges is moving forward in Cocoa Beach.
It was proposed by Mayor Ben Malik.
“Things are changing and we either have to go along with or we have to get out of the way,” Malik said.
He says the plan would give police more discretion. It would apply to cases where a person has a small amount of marijuana or certain drug paraphernalia on them. Malik says that way, people wouldn’t have to deal with a criminal history and jail time.
“Do we really need to ruin somebody’s life over this? I don’t personally think so and I feel pretty strongly about it,” Malik said.
But two city commissioner spoke out in Thursday’s meeting against the plan.
“If we’re saying you can get away with just a civil citation – nobody is going to be scared to bring it to all of our beaches,” said Commissioner Karalyn Woulas.
There were also concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug. Malik firing back in the meeting that he smoked marijuana in college and turned out fine.
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t have to get into harder drugs and that’s just the way it is,” he explained.
As for public comment, only a couple people came up to the microphone. Both sides of the argument were represented by citizens.
“The law isn’t what ruins their lives – their choices are what ruins their lives,” said one man.
“I think it’s just Cocoa Beach kind of positioning itself and being a forward leader,” another resident said at the podium.
The ordinance narrowly moved forward with a 3-2 vote. It will now go a second reading.