Orlando police chief stands by ordinance to decriminalize small amounts of pot

ORLANDO, Fla. — The city of Orlando will consider decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana at the next meeting of the Orlando City Council.

The ordinance is on the agenda for next week.

Under the ordinance, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana would be a city code violation.

Possession of certain drug paraphernalia would also be considered a city code violation.

If the ordinance approved, violators would be issued a $50 citation for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Document: Copy of ordinance 

Currently, if a citizen if caught with pot, it could mean a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, along with a permanent criminal record.

Under the ordinance, jail time would be off the table.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he plans to stand behind City Hall.

“For people who don’t have a criminal history, or haven’t been in trouble, this will give our officers an option so that person’s life won’t be ruined by a criminal record,” said Mina.

Mina said his department makes less than 500 marijuana-related arrests a year.

The ordinance would not apply to convicted drug dealers, or people carrying more than 20 grams.

“The arrests of people for small amounts of cannabis or marijuana is low on our priority anyway,” Mina said.

Orlando isn’t the first area in the state to look at backing off pot laws.

Last month, Volusia County leaders passed an almost identical ordinance.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Mina will hold a press conference about the ordinance Wednesday at City Hall at 11 a.m.