Despite decriminalizing hemp and minor cannabis charges in Miami, Florida last July, the neighboring resort city of Miami Beach banned public cannabis and hemp smoking. The city is attempting to slow down its notorious party atmosphere, including cannabis consumption.
The Miami Beach City Commission unanimously voted in favor of a municipal ordinance to prevent public smoking of cannabis or hemp. Under the new law, anyone who is caught smoking on a public right-of-way faces a fine up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
“We are a very progressive community. Medical marijuana passed here overwhelmingly,” Mayor Dan Gelber stated. “On the other hand, I know our residents expect a certain level of conduct.”
Over the past several weeks, police in the Miami area are struggling to arrest people for minor cannabis charges, because they have no way of distinguishing legal hemp from cannabis. The same problem happened in other areas of the country such as Texas for the same reason, after legalizing hemp.
Commissioners complained of the influx of cannabis smokers during busy holidays at the beach such as Memorial Day weekend or Columbus Day weekend. Last Columbus Day weekend, for instance, police complained of a wild party-goer that smoked cannabis while atop a police vehicle. The Spring break-style atmosphere makes smoking an additional problem, aside from alcohol-related and drug-related chaos.
“Really during the high-impact weekends—for example, during spring break and during Memorial Day weekend—our officers are very good at actually being able to go to people and have them pour out the open container without there being any additional incidents,” Police Chief Rick Clements said at the commission meeting.
Miami Beach is notorious for its nightlife scene that attracts tourists from multiple states. This new ordinance is aimed at curbing public cannabis use that increases during three-day weekends and vacation times.