Lakeland Decides Not To Decriminalize Marijuana

Lakeland Commissioners Decide To Not Decriminalize Marijuana

On Tuesday Florida took a stand and voted in support of expanding medical marijuana use and voters in Massachusetts, California and Neveda said yes to legalizing pot for recreational use.

However, one city in Florida came close to joining that same movement, but then decided not to. During a five hour long meeting at the Lakeland Civic Center, Lakeland commissioners decided not to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

The commissioners heard from experts on both sides of the issue, but in the end decided not to take any action.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Police Department and Polk County State Attorney-elect Brian Haas spoke against decriminalization.

“Just follow the law,” Sheriff Grady Judd told commissioners, per WFLA. “I didn’t write it. I didn’t make it. If you don’t like it, change it. Til then, follow the law.”

Judd said the measure would mean taking a step toward legalizing pot in Lakeland and warned commissioners not to be fooled.


Chris Cano, executive director of Central Florida NORML, a group that works to reform marijuana laws, spoke in favor of decriminalization.

Cano’s father suffers from terminal dementia and uses medical marijuana. Cana brings his father the marijuana and was once arrested for possession of pot.

“Going home every day and having it on you to get it for your dad, you worry about it. Is (it) the next time you’re going to get stopped?” Cano asked. “Be willing to give someone a ticket rather than lock them up in handcuffs.”

Nearly all of the dozens of people that addressed the council were in favor of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot. Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in Tampa and Orlando, yet most of the state still finds it a crime.

At the end of the meeting Lakeland commissioners chose to not take any new actions, saying they had more important issues to face in the city.