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Dade Commissioners Approve Pot Possession Penalty Reduction

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Should possessing a small amount of pot land a person in jail? Miami-Dade Commissioners said no on Tuesday.

The debate follows CBS4 Jim DeFede's Investigation: Race Matters Policing By The Numbers, which was mentioned during Tuesday's commission meeting.

The commission approved a new ordinance that would give police officers the option of writing a ticket to anyone possessing a small amount of pot instead of arresting them.

The CBS4 investigation found that pot possession cases are clogging up the court system and disproportionately punish blacks.

Commissioner Sally Heyman proposed the ticket option following our report.

The commission decided to give officers the option of writing a $100 ticket for minor pot possession. There was support for the reduction from various lawmakers, pastors and judges.

"As was pointed out in a CBS4 News report, tens of thousands of people often face misdemeanor charges without the assistance of an attorney," said Guy Robinson with MD Public Defender's Office. "So we see this as a good first step to make our court system more fair and more just."

County Administrative Judge Sam Slom said, "Instead taxpayers spending money on these cases in essence the county would be collecting money on these cases."

Slom spoke before the commission and added that the vast majority of cases he sees could be resolved civilly to everyone's benefit.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez supported the proposal, however, he wanted one change. He did not want officers to have the option to ticket those who were smoking pot in public. He believes they should go straight to jail.

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