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America’s relationship with marijuana remains a muddled mess. Possession and use remain a crime at the federal level and in some states.

Many states, including Florida, regulate it for medical use while other states allow people to buy it for recreational use as well.

Beyond state laws, each county and city seems to be deciding how they want to treat violators. Currently, the State’s Attorney for Broward County isn’t investigating or prosecuting any arrests for under 20 grams of marijuana.

At its meeting on May 10, the Wilton Manors City Commission voted on updating several parts of the city’s code, including how to treat marijuana infractions. Debate focused on whether to deal with it at all and, if so, to what extent. In the end commissioners voted to continue enforcement but scale back the penalties. Previously, getting busted with small amounts (under 20 grams) subjected violators to fines based on a graduated scale that reached into the hundreds of dollars for repeat offenders. Now it will be a $25 fine for each violation, as well as confiscation of the contraband.

Wilton Manors police officers will perform a field test on suspected marijuana and positive tests result in a civil infraction. Chief Gary Blocker told SFGN that it won’t result in a criminal history nor will it be forwarded to state or county authorities. However, the citation will be on record and it could turn up in background checks if someone specifically searches their history in Wilton Manors.

It’s important to note this does not affect people with their Florida-issued medical marijuana cards. However, you must be prepared to show it if requested.

A Different Type of ‘Gateway’

Opponents of marijuana often call it a “gateway” drug, inferring that it leads to abuse of harder, addictive drugs. However this policy can be used as a gateway to additional searches of offenders. If someone is stopped and found to have unlicensed marijuana on them, police could conduct a further search of the person or their vehicle. Completely abandoning any enforcement would remove this tool from law enforcement.

The updated marijuana policy comes as multiple retailers of CBD products and the Delta 8 strain have opened up within the city.

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