Gainesville Considers Civil Citation For Pot Possession

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Leaders in Alachua County are considering whether to lighten the penalties for marijuana possession.

Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to have the county attorney investigate a change that would let officers treat marijuana possession as a civil infraction.

The Gainesville Sun ( ) reports Commissioner Lee Pinkoson emphasized that such a change would not decriminalize marijuana. Instead, law enforcement officers would have leeway in giving a compliant, first-time offender a civil citation rather than a criminal one.

Miami-Dade County last month approved a similar proposal which allows officers to give $100 citations or the equivalent community service hours for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell told county leaders in May that misdemeanor marijuana cases rose 23 percent over a one-year period between 2013 and 2014.