This summer time, Miami’s lead prosecutor announced that they would quit prosecuting minor pot offenses, successfully decriminalizing pot in one particular of Florida’s biggest counties. But though neighborhood police have been informed of this selection, new information reveals that individuals are nevertheless receiving thrown in jail for just possessing weed.
On July 1st, Florida joined 42 other states in legalizing hemp, but state prosecutors quickly realized that this new law had an unexpected consequence. Legal hemp plants appear and smell the identical as illegal marijuana plants, and most states’ law enforcement agencies are unable to inform the distinction involving these two types of cannabis without having resorting to highly-priced lab tests. As a outcome, prosecutors in a number of states, such as Texas and Florida, have backed down on prosecuting minor weed crimes for the time becoming.
Later in July, the Miami-Dade Police Division notified its officers that the odor of cannabis can no longer be viewed as probable bring about to search a automobile. In August, Miami-Dade State Lawyer Katherine Fernandez Rundle sent a memo to all 35 police departments in the county, explaining that her workplace would quit prosecuting minor pot possession circumstances till additional notice.
One particular would count on that this memo would convince cops to devote their sources to a lot more really serious crimes, but a new report from the Miami New Occasions reveals that this is not the case. From July 1st to November 23rd, cops arrested 391 individuals for misdemeanor pot possession, 141 of whom have been arrested right after Rundle sent the memo.
For most of these arrests, the pot charges have been added to other, principal allegations, but cops nevertheless jailed 47 individuals for weed possession alone. 12 of these 47 have been busted for possessing significantly less than 20 grams of weed. The majority of these arrests occurred in Miami Gardens, Hialeah, and the City of Miami, regions largely populated by communities of colour.
It seems that the prosecutor’s message may possibly not have filtered down to the cops on the street. “The State Lawyer and the State Attorney’s Workplace have no legal authority to direct any of Miami-Dade’s 35 police agencies to do something,” stated Ed Griffith, spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Workplace, to the New Occasions. “These that do have the legal authority to direct a municipal police division to do a thing are the municipal governments that oversee the departments.”
Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade’s chief public defender, warned police that failing to heed Rundle’s memo could leave them vulnerable to lawsuits. “Men and women must not be arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession simply because the prosecutor’s workplace has stated they will not be prosecuting,” he told the New Occasions. “I think about that, if an arrested person sues, it could be expensive for the departments who are arresting on charges that will not hold up in court.”
Most of the misdemeanor weed charges filed right after Rundle released her memo have been dismissed. Even so, every of these individuals was nevertheless dragged to jail and forced to seek legal representation. These minor drug charges — even if they are non-prosecutable — also leave individuals with permanent criminal records, and can get immigrants or vacationers deported, even if no charges are filed.
Not only do these non-prosecutable arrests threaten the lives and nicely-becoming of these who are arrested, they waste precious police time and sources. Miami-Dade police have been only in a position to resolve 16.eight % of all crimes reported final year, the lowest price in all of Florida. Placing an finish to minor weed arrests, in particular when they will not even be prosecuted, could absolutely free up adequate police time to let cops to concentrate on actual, really serious crimes.