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Memo Outlines MDPD Policy On Pot Penalties

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Miami-Dade Police issued a memo outlining their rules on civil citations for those caught with pot.

The memo, issued July 7th, clarifies what police can do if someone is found with 20 grams or less of marijuana.

As part of the ordinance that took effect on July 10th,  officers can choose to give a civil citation of $100 rather than making an arrest. The decision is left to the officer's discretion.

The memo clarifies, "Use of discretion is guided and framed by law, policies, rules , procedures, training and supervision. Except for felonies and driving under the influence offenses where an individual must be physically arrested and incarcerated, officers are encouraged to use their discretionary authority in making an arrest." 

Officers who face the decision are encouraged to consider a number of factors when trying to decide if to issue the citation.

Those factors include violators who have no criminal history or those who have a criminal past that is unrelated to the current violation, or if the violator has a "past criminal record that is more than 3 years old."

The memo also goes on to clarify when the officer should consider arresting the person instead, including if the person is actually caught smoking marijuana in public or while driving a car.

The issue of whether police should spend their time making arrests over small amounts of marijuana was the focus of a recent CBS4 News Investigation – Race Matters: Policing By The Numbers. The series noted how an arrest, even for a misdemeanor like marijuana possession, can have a serious effect on a person's future.

Click here to view the full memo.

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