Ordinance to decriminalize marijuana up for debate in New Smyrna Beach

- New Smyrna Beach City Commissioners will vote today on whether or not people should be criminalized for having small amounts of marijuana.

According to the ordinance, if you have 20 grams of marijuana or less, you may face a $103 fine instead of being charged with a misdemeanor crime.

Last year, Volusia County became the first county in Central Florida to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

"Basically that's what we're kind of doing following Volusia County,” said the New Smyrna Beach Mayor James Hathaway. “It would be up to the police officer to determine whether or not to charge someone with a misdemeanor or actually say it's a violation of the city ordinance, and in that case there would be a fine levied, which the state allows $103 dollars."

Some commissioners think it’s a good idea to pass this ordinance because people can avoid having a criminal record at a young age. But others, like Commissioner Judy Reiker, think they should follow state and federal law.

“I know everyone says oh everyone is doing it, they’re smoking it through those vapor cigarettes and everything else. I guess I’m just behind the times but I think it’s wrong for our city and it sends the wrong message,” said New Smyrna Beach Commissioner Judy Reiker.

It’s still illegal to drive a car under the influence of marijuana; the ordinance applies to possession only. If this ordinance passes, New Smyrna Beach would be another city opting for the decriminalization of marijuana.

The public will have a chance to voice their concerns on this issue. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11th, at City Hall located at 210 Sams Avenue New Smyrna Beach.

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