Tampa has changed its laws as they relate to marijuana possession. Now, due to a new city ordinance that went into effect on April 1, 2016, the possession of marijuana (up to 20 grams) is considered a civil infraction as opposed to a first degree misdemeanor. This does not mean the marijuana is legal in Tampa or its surrounding communities. It just means that individuals possessing small amounts of marijuana will be fined instead of being arrested and then moved through the criminal justice system.
Fine Amounts Are Based on the Individual’s Previous Record
If the individual possesses 20 grams of marijuana or less and the possession of the marijuana is the only offense, an individual should expect to pay a fine amount based on his or her previous record:
- First Time Offenders – $75
- Second Time Offenders Pay Double – $150
- Third Time Offenders, the Fine is Doubled Again – $300
- Four or More Times and the Fine Increases to $450
DUI with Marijuana Possession of 20 Grams or Less
Despite the fact that Tampa has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, there are still instances that can lead to a first degree misdemeanor. For example, if an individual who is pulled over is found to be driving under the influence and a small amount of marijuana is discovered, this individual may still be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. This holds true even if the amount of marijuana an individual has in his or her possession is at or under the maximum allowable amount an individual in Tampa may possess under the decriminalization ordinance (20 grams). In a case such as this, whether the individual is arrested or not is left to the discretion of the police officer(s).
Tampa’s marijuana possession decriminalization ordinance does not intend to allow for the use of marijuana in public; however, if an individual is not committing any other violations, he or she may (at the officer’s discretion) just receive a civil infraction and be charged a fine.
This New Ordinance Only Applies to the City of Tampa
Hillsborough County encompasses more than just the city of Tampa; therefore, individuals must realize that if they possess any amount of marijuana in Tampa’s surrounding communities, they should expect to be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.
Some of the communities where Tampa’s marijuana possession decriminalization ordinance is inapplicable include Brandon, Town ‘n’ Country, Riverview and Gibsonton.
This Ordinance is Not Retroactive
This ordinance is not retroactive; therefore, individuals who were charged with a first degree misdemeanor by the city of Tampa for the possession of marijuana (20 grams or less) before this new ordinance was implemented on April 1, 2016, will not benefit from Tampa’s decriminalization of marijuana possession ordinance.