Miami Beach commissioners have voted unanimously to pass a municipal ordinance that considers cannabis consumption in public a criminal offense. As informed by law enforcement, the new ordinance was put together primarily owing to the actions of one rowdy individual who reportedly climbed on top of a police car during the “Columbus Day” celebration to smoke a joint. As stated by Capt. Daniel Morgalo, “Without that incident, there wouldn’t be a new rule to deal with such behavior.”
Dan Gelber, Mayor of Miami Beach, has already had his sights on banning public smoking of marijuana ever since Florida’s legalization of hemp and Miami-Dade’s partial decriminalization of cannabis gave rise to more unmannerly marijuana consumption in public places. In Gelber’s view, some of Miami Beach residents were not enjoying their liberties responsibly, which, as a result, has pushed city commissioners to enact and pass an ordinance that would necessarily outlaw public consumption of any form of hemp or marijuana. Now, being caught while smoking weed in public comes with a hefty $500 fine and a maximum of 60 days in prison.
Contrarily, municipalities across Florida, over the past few years, have passed decriminalization ordinances to turn simple cannabis use and possession charges into nominal civil offenses. On July 1, Florida legalized hemp, aligning state laws with the federal lifting of the ban on hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. Now, since hemp is totally legal in Florida, a ban on its consumption, like in Miami Beach, would be violating that very right.
Banning public consumption of cannabis, Miami Beach has become one of the first municipalities in the state to adopt such an approach. Although the new ordinance’s language is likely to leave it open to constitutional challenges, the new law clearly won’t be distinguishing between cannabis with 30 percent THC or a strain of hemp flower that’s all CBD; smoking weed in the open will lead to criminal and legal consequences.
Nevertheless, the Miami Beach police seem to be ready to work on enforcing the new ordinance. As reported, they will especially be targeting popular seasons like spring break and Memorial Day weekend. Also, from the statement of Miami Beach Police Chief, it’s clear that they’ll be on the lookout to catch party-goers absolutely off guard. He said, “Miami Beach officers are real experts at executing operations using discretion.”