The people of Miami Beach are looking to go green and make the legendary party town a little more 420 friendly. On Wednesday, a diverse coalition of local and national activists came to City Hall with thousands of signatures and one simple demand: a marijuana decriminalization ballot question. The petition seeks to change the city charter to allow police to issue $100 citations for possession of small amounts of marijuana. While only about 4,500 signatures are required to put a question on a future ballot in the city, the group claims to have over 9000 and is planning to use that number to put pressure on the city commission.
Tired of delays and wasted resources, the backers of the petition are determined to get the question on the ballot this November rather than next year. To do this, they need the commission to put the measure on the ballot by itself instead of waiting for the long petition submission and approval process. As the hearing got on the way, Mayor Matti Bower along with most commissioners were adamant about not getting involved and refused to take action. They were however caught by surprise when attorney, and national SSDP co-founder, Shawn Heller explained to the commission that should 6,000 of the signatures turn out to be valid they would trigger and automatic, and costly, special election.
The mayor complained about the situation, asking why should taxpayers pay the quarter of a million dollars that a referendum on this “new and revolutionary” measure would cost. Committee for Sensible Drug Policy campaign manager Eric Stevens insisted that the group wanted the commission “to take some action” and that it was fully within their power to avoid a special election by adding the measure to the November ballot. A series of speakers then proceeded to make statements in support of decriminalization. Among the more prominent supporters were federal marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld, who showed off his tin can of government joints and chastised the city for spending the same tax dollars that pay for his weed on arresting smokers. 1970’s marijuana smuggler turned activist Robert Platshorn, whose film industry associates helped finance much of the effort, told the commission about the millions of dollars that marijuana events and savings from decriminalization have brought to cities across the nation.
City Attorney Jose Smith attempted to shut down debate by saying that he would likely find the petition illegal for going against federal law, but did not explain how an ordinance that simply gave the option of a fine preempted state or federal rules. He also admitted to not having read the petition. As the evening wound down, the coalition managed to get commissioner Michael Gongora to agree to add the issue as a proper discussion item at a future meeting. While the city lawmakers have made it clear that they have no desire to put the measure on the ballot by themselves, the political cost of an expensive special referendum might still win the day for marijuana. 420petition will continue to bring you the latest news as they happen!
By: Marijuana News