Nov 202015
 
marijuana leaf
by Dennis Reeves Cooper…….
Last July, the City Commission amended Chap. 42 of the City’s Code of Ordinances to give police officers more discretion when busting people caught with very small quantities of marijuana. Rather than arresting and hauling off to jail people found with less than 20 grams (less than an ounce), officers now have the discretion to, instead, issue a civil citation– like a traffic ticket. Rather than possibly ending up with a criminal record, these individuals would simply pay a $100 fine..
“The idea behind this new law is twofold,” said former City Commissioner Mark Rossi, who sponsored the amendment. “First of all, the new law gives officers the discretion to give a person caught with very small quantities of marijuana a second chance. The old policy has ruined a lot of lives. In addition, the new law should relieve some pressure on the court system.”
Proponents say this is a good idea. But the fact is that not a single drug-related civil citation has been issued so far. According to Alyson Crean, the Police Department’s Public Information Officer, the new program has not yet been implemented because the City Attorney’s Office has not yet formalized language for the new citation form. City Attorney Shawn Smith said there was a delay because of some miscommunication with the Police Department, but that has been fixed and the language for the new citation form was released from his office this week.
“In the meantime,” Crean said, “officers have been continuing to exercise the discretion they have always had to determine whether to issue a citation for possession of less than 20 grams or not.” But the citation that Crean is referencing here is not a civil citation– it is basically a notice to appear in court to face criminal drug charges. In a subsequent email, Crean clarified: “Officers have always had the discretion to NOT issue a citation of any kind. They also have the discretion to give the person the benefit of the doubt and merely confiscate the drug for destruction. The new law gives officers the added discretion to issue a civil citation to avoid criminal charges and an arrest.”
Asked about concerns that officers might enforce the new law selectively, Rossi said, “I hope that would never happen. The intent is that the law will be applied equally to everyone.”

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Dennis Reeves Cooper

IN THE PHOTO: DENNIS REEVES COOPER PH.D AND BILL O’REILLY. Dr. Cooper founded Key West The Newspaper in 1994 and published the paper for 18 years, until he retired in 2012. In 2001, Key West Police Chief Buz Dillon had Cooper arrested and jailed, alleging that Cooper had violated an obscure state gag law when writing about a police investigation. The journalist-arrested story hit the national news and Bill O’reilly called and invited Cooper to appear on his show on Fox News. Dillon was also invited to appear, but refused the invitation. O’Reilly suggested that Dillon was “hiding under his desk.” The ACLU also called and offered to sue the City of Key West on Cooper’s behalf. Subsequently, the gag law was declared unconstitutional and the City settled out of court for $240,000. Also, the arrest was a factor in the creation of an independent police oversight board– the Citizen Review Board (CRB)– by Key West voters in November 2002. By that time, Buz Dillon had been unceremoniously fired.


————————————————————————————————————————————————-More Articles By Dennis Reeves Cooper prior to November, 2014.


  One Response to “NEW MARIJUANA LAW: NO CITATIONS SO FAR”

  1. So while searching a suspect for what ever reason they find a few joints on him / her. So now what ? Do they really think that is all they have ? Will they get a search warrant to visit that persons home ? Might as well face facts and it is only a few years away from being legal. Spend your efforts on real crime. Reality is all they want is the fine. And now at question is how much of it gets turned into the police department ? I see plenty of room for corruption.