Home / Government and politics / Alachua County Commissioner, Sheriff’s Office At Odds Over Marijuana Citations

Alachua County Commissioner, Sheriff’s Office At Odds Over Marijuana Citations

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Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson wants the sheriff’s office to begin issuing citations to marijuana suspects instead of arresting them.

The full commission voted unanimously in favor this month of giving the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office such an option.

But sheriff’s office spokesman Art Forgey said that no policy on the citations has been established yet because the office hasn’t received the necessary information from the county attorney to do so.

“We have not received any information from the county or the forms that they’ll be utilizing for the civil citation,” Forgey said. “There’s also issues with being able to check and see if civil citations have been issued to people outside of the county” so such citations will be attached to the person.

In a statement on Thursday to State Attorney William Cervone, Sheriff Sadie Darnell echoed Forgey’s explanation.

“At this point,” she wrote, “I am unable to establish an implementation policy, absent information of the county’s process of the forms they will be utilizing for issuing civil citations.”

The policy is meant to apply only to those caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana. But its passing was not met with open arms by Darnell, who has voiced her opposition to lessening marijuana policing.

Hutchinson said he told Darnell that misdemeanor marijuana arrests should be the county’s “least highest priority.”

“And she said absolutely not,” he said.

After going back and forth with the sheriff’s office, Hutchinson decided to calculate the taxpayer cost for misdemeanor marijuana arrests and said he would modify the sheriff’s budget by that amount (though he hasn’t followed through).

“I did some math, and I figured out that it was costing us between $900,000 to $1 million a year in just the public cost,” he said.

For that total, Hutchinson took an ACLU article on the cost of marijuana across Florida, divided that figure by the number of people the state had incarcerated for marijuana, then “took a percentage of the number that Alachua County had put in … jail. And that’s how I did the math.”

But according to Forgey, the cost of incarcerating people for the sheriff’s office on stand-alone misdemeanor marijuana arrests was $20,697 as of 2014.

He said Hutchinson’s cost was a projected cost and not tied to anything.

For now, the two policies represent the difference between an arrest and possible jail time and just paying a fee for people found with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana.

On July 29, 18-year-old Caleb Cribbs was heading back to work on Highway 441 in Alachua County from his lunch break when he was pulled over for speeding.

“They caught me with evidence that I was a smoker,” said Cribbs, who was arrested on the charge of having less than 20 grams of marijuana and taken to jail. “They found some seeds and some stems and not even a bud to put on a scale.”

Cribbs said he was released on bail between five and six hours later and that he is going to court to pay a $1,000 fine.

He said this is the first time he has been arrested for marijuana.

“Reefer’s not even a drug anymore,” Cribbs said. “I guarantee [that stuff’s] gonna be legal in Florida before too long.”

About Mary Kate Cobb

Mary Kate is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at mkc1083@ufl.edu or 352-392-6397.

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38 comments

  1. An elected government should not declare war and militarize against its own people. Historically, the use of force to address/prohibit non-violent, victimless activities has produced only negative results.

    * Our policy regarding drugs is in the hands of frauds, liars and two bit crooks, and until they are in handcuffs, poverty will increase, injustice will prevail and perversity will rule the planet.

    * Drug prohibition, coupled with the senseless contra wars in Latin America in the 1980s—which was funded by clandestine CIA cocaine shipments into North American cities—has destabilized the whole region, causing mass violence and a flood of refugees into the United States.

    * In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. This has resulted in the number of people infected with HIV who are drug addicts dropping from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, and new diagnoses of HIV among addicts dropping from approximately 3,000 to below 2,000 annually. The number of drug overdose deaths declined from 400 to 290 a year between 2001 and 2006, and “problematic” drug use and drug use among adolescents has decreased.

    * Prohibitionists have always been murderous parasites: In 1926, during alcohol prohibition, the federal government began a campaign of deliberately poisoning vats of liquor with kerosene, gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, acetone, methanol, and several other deadly toxins. Estimates place the body count above 10,000.

    * Illegal Drug Cartels cannot operate without the support of politicians, bureaucrats, and police officers.

    * Keeping various psychoactive plants and their derivatives illegal and unregulated means robberies, home invasions, murders, broken families, shattered lives—all mostly done by law enforcement agencies. Add to that list: environmental devastation, poisoning of lands, streams and wildlife—all preventable by regulated legalization.

    * Prohibition has been a slow but relentless degradation (death by a zillion cuts) of all our cherished national and international institutions that will leave us crippled for numerous generations.

    * The US federal government is now the most dangerous and corrupt corporation on the planet; it is solely comprised of traitorous, lying hucksters who spy on us.

    * In 1989, The Kerry Committee found that the United States Department of State had made payments to drug-traffickers. Concluding, that even members of the U.S. State Department, themselves, were involved in drug trafficking. Some of the payments were made even after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies – or even while these traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies.

    * The involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, and Cocaine from Central America, has been well documented, by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott and the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Gary Webb.

    * The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by all the other worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use & addiction rates than most other countries.

    * As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

    * The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. The drug was alcohol, and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result. And very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.

  2. Marijuana radicalists always like to ignore the research that shows the disgusting effects from marijuana and that it’s addictive, a gateway drug, and a plethora of other problems that have come from legalization. The medical benefits are a joke, do people believe doctors are just deaf and dumb? They don’t like it for a reason.
    People want it legalized to get high, let’s just admit that part. There’s no real benefit that will come from an addictive unhealthy drug being legalized.

    • Aspirin exacerbates bleeding disorders and could lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. What’s your point? People drink alcohol to get drunk. Whoop-dee-doo. The medical marijuana fight has taken off because people like you and Sheriff Darnell have taken a prohibitive hard line stance against decriminalization of marijuana, but good sirs and madams, that line has become rusty and moldy. While other states live in free societies, Florida still puts people, mainly minorities and youngsters, in jail over possession or use of a plant which has been used by humans for thousands of years. Let us not diminish the US constitution by pretending that marijuana is a “public safety” issue, when it not only *potentially* has medical benefits, but more importantly viewed an individual freedom.

      You go after marijuana for being “addictive” and “unhealthy” but do not go after alcohol companies for causing rampant alcoholism, Big Tobacco for its plentitude of diseases and early deaths, or Fast Food Companies for obesity and diabetes? It is a shame, I think you and I live in two different worlds, and yet we might be neighbors.

      • GMO products too.

      • This is about marijuana not alcohol, aspirin, fast food or oxygen. Comparing marijuana to other substances is the addict’s typical scapegoat for justifying their disease; the term for it is called rationalization. Read your comment again and realize that you’ve said almost nothing about marijuana but remark about a multiple of other totally irrelevant substances.

        • A Freedom Fighter

          Typhon, It’s absolutely clear that cannabis is by far safer than the legal alternatives. Alcohol, Tobacco and pharmaceutical drugs are directly responsible for over 650,000 deaths annually in this country alone. This plus another 21000 traffic deaths directly attributed to alcohol and Pharmacy drug intoxicated drivers. Comparison to Legal vices is a completely valid argument. To ignore this is to turn your back on logic. I’ve seen your nonsense before typing and it seems that you’re nothing more than a prohibitionist troll.

          • Freedom come on man, I’ve watched you post the same stint over and over again with every article and I’ve left you alone. Extend the same courtesy to me.

          • A Freedom Fighter

            What are you crazy? Trying to stifle my free speech?

          • Wow, I mean you post the same comment on every marijuana article with the same outdated and unsupported stats every time. You do it on here and I’ve seen you on Yahoo! posting verbatim the same thing. I’ve overlooked it out of courtesy but if you really believe I have nothing to counter that then you’re in for a surprise because if I respond to the post im referring to then I will respond to ALL of your dupilcated posts. Seems a little overzealous to me, but if you’re going to call me out, then I’m going to show down… Up to you.

          • How is your viewpoint working out for you? All of your claims about marijuana have been proven as false. Gateway drug? That’s a good one! All that your rant shows is that you have no idea what your talking about. What will you do when marijuana is legalized in the near future? How does it feel to be on the wrong side of history?

          • Actually plenty of research backs my words up.

          • I would love to read it. Nothing older then 10 years.

          • Sure, I’ve got plenty, how come you didn’t request said infromation from freedom fighter, i mean you’re after the truth right? I’m curious as to why you didn’t seek validly from his side and mine as opposed to just mine.

          • Where is it? Freedoms info is all over the web, where is yours?

          • Oh okay, well here’s some research I’ve found:

            Research found that adults who were early marijuana users were found to be 8 times more likely to have used cocaine, 15 times more likely to have used heroin, and 5 times more likely to develop a need for treatment of abuse or dependence on any drug.

            The Journal of the American Medical Association reported a study of more than 300 sets of same-sex twins. The study found that marijuana-using twins were four times more likely than their siblings to use cocaine and crack cocaine, and five times more likely to
            use hallucinogens such as LSD.

          • Correlation is not causation. You went to college, right?

          • When did I say it was?

          • So marijuana doesn’t cause future drug use, however there is a correlation. This is because marijuana is the most prevalent illegal substance in the world and most people’s first exposure to the black market. If marijuana was regulated, we wouldn’t have that correlation, would we? BTW, the RAND institute and Newsweek both say your wrong about marijuana as a gateway drug.

          • So you admit that I didn’t say that, so why reference that?

            Smoking cigarettes doesn’t cause lung cancer and drinking alcohol excessively doesn’t lead to alcoholism.

            I don’t care what Newsweek says they report stories not science.

          • You didn’t say it, you posted it, when you gave correlative evidence! You didn’t go to college, did you? And how about RAND? I guess you don’t care what one of the worlds most prestigious think tanks says about marijuana do you? Good news is 58% of Americans see things my way.

          • “You didn’t say it, you posted it”

            Show me.

          • “Oh okay, well here’s some research I’ve found:

            Research found that adults who were early marijuana users were found to be 8 times more likely to have used cocaine, 15 times more likely to have used heroin, and 5 times more likely to develop a need for treatmef abuse or dependence on any drug.
            The Journal of the American Medical Association reported a study of more than 300 sets of same-sex twins. The study found that marijuana-using twins were four times more likely than their siblings to use cocaine and crack cocaine, and five times more likely to use hallucinogens such as LSD.”

            That is all CORRELITIVE. It shows no CAUSE at all. Show me proof that marijuana is a gateway drug, not a correlation between marijuana and hard drugs. Go back to school if you can’t keep up!

          • Those are quotes directly from studies, I didn’t write any of that.

          • Wow.
            To continue this conversation would be a waste of my time.

          • Well you contacted me so that’s on you pal.

          • I was trying to be polite,… but your clearly dumb. You have no idea what I’m talking about. Don’t try to explain yourself, your posts have said enough!

          • “I was trying to be polite”
            No you weren’t, you’ve barely maintained even a civil context within this conversation.

        • You are correct that rationalization is a defense mechanism where actions are justified using seemingly logical reasons. However, I am not using rationalization… I am being rational. A primary characteristic of addiction is that a substance interferes with daily life, not using rationalization as a defense. Beyond the fact that I do not consume marijuana (hard stop), it is troubling and a sign of these times that I must respond to (1) scientific conjecture and (2) speculative personal attacks designed more to provoke anger than constructive thought. My point is that yes marijuana is addictive, but so are a multitude of other substances. Just to annoy you, I will throw in sugar – the behavioral and chemical bases for sugar addiction has been well-established, but nobody is suggesting we criminalize it… I am not using rationalization good sir, but you are indeed trying to put marijuana decriminalization on a slippery slope where apparently all the marijuana users will start using crack cocaine or crystal meth tomorrow, which simply is not true nor has been observed in decriminalized states.

          Colorado Department of Public Safety Report: Initial Findings on Marijuana Legalization: http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2016-SB13-283-Rpt.pdf

          • Personal attacks? That’s a stretch, one that you clearly wish I made.
            Marijuana is considered a “gateway drug” so I have no idea what other substances an addict will resort to next. You can deny that you’re using rationalization as often as you’d like; most people that manifest this technique will deny it.

          • Try reading some time, you might like it.

          • Really? That’s it? You’re by far the most intelligent person I’ve spoken with about marijuana and I was expecting a much more extensive conversation about it but I was seriously disappointed with this response. I even spent time reading over your report that you linked assuming you’d bring it up at some point. Oh well, if I offended you I apologize.

          • LOL. No need to apologize. I appreciate good banter. My takeaway from the report is that MJ arrests went down, the state is generating a ton of money for schools, and that, contrary to your comment, there doesn’t seem to be a meth or crack “epidemic.” Granted, it’s too early to declare victory, but like others have commented, prohibition over certain things never really works, and that there are parallels we can compare between marijuana and other substances. We have speed limits, but who goes the speed limit? Police officers use their discretion to say, okay 10% over is acceptable to me, or 10-over, or whatever. At least in my case, I am forced to draw these comparisons because research on marijuana is very limited due to DEA scheduling. No, I’m not someone who is convinced ultra-progressive decriminalization would work, but I’m not convinced it would fail, nor any policy movement in between for that matter.

    • A Freedom Fighter

      Complete and utter Reefer Madness nonsense. Cannabis has been completely legal in Colorado for over 2 years, the sky hasn’t fallen and the state still functions as always. Instead of drug cartels and gangs getting cannabis money legitimate business is handling the funds providing new jobs for thousands of Colorado citizens. The state is getting a healthy chunk in new taxes and gangs and organized crime is starting to move out of the state. Multiply the Colorado success by 50. Millions of new jobs, BILLIONs in new tax revenue and NO MORE POLICE WAR on folks for cannabis consumption!

  3. A Freedom Fighter

    Some of our lawmakers and police officials are afraid of cannabis legalization. If they’re properly informed they know cannabis is safer than booze, tobacco and pills and that cannabis consumers almost never give cops trouble. What scares them is losing soft targets cannabis users provide and the money from federal grants and personal property they’ve wrongly confiscated. These cops are addicted to that money and scared witless of losing it.

    Figures from the Center for Disease Control on numbers of deaths per year in the USA:

    * Prescription Drugs: 237,485 + 5000 traffic fatalities
    * Tobacco: 390,323
    * Alcohol: 88,013 + 16,000 traffic fatalities
    * Cocaine: 4,906
    * Heroin: 7,200
    * Aspirin: 466
    * Acetaminophen (Tylenol): 179
    * Marijuana: 0, none, not a single fatal overdose in all medical history and almost no traffic problems.

    So, which is safer???? Legalize, regulate and TAX!

    • I think the problem is folks are still living in the 80s of Reagan’s “Golden Years,” when drug users got mandatory sentencing and draconian “three strikes” laws thrown at them. This helped create the prison-industrial complex as it exists today, which means it is not just cops we are talking about… Actually to their credit, many libertarian-minded former sheriffs around the country have come out in favor of marijuana. Recently the Feds are going to phase out private prisons since they turned out to be more violent and more mismanaged. “It’s a racket we tell ya!” as they get dragged away by men in black suits.

      Let’s not forget the Kids-for-Cash scandal where two judges were convicted of sending kids to prison for kickbacks. You really can’t make this stuff up! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

  4. Here’s an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during Federal Alcohol Prohibition (1919-1933)

    The Prohibitionists, when they foisted their brummagem cure-all upon the country under cover of the war hysteria, gave out that their advocacy of it was based upon a Christian yearning to abate drunkenness, and so abolish crime, poverty and disease. They preached a [crime, poverty and disease free] millennium, and no doubt convinced hundreds of thousands of naive and sentimental persons, not themselves Puritans, nor even democrats.

    That millennium, as everyone knows, has failed to come in. Not only are crime, poverty and disease undiminished, but drunkenness itself, if the police statistics are to be believed, has greatly increased. The land rocks with the scandal. Prohibition has made the use of alcohol devilish and even fashionable, and so vastly augmented the number of users. The young of both sexes, mainly innocent of the cup under license, now take to it almost unanimously.

    In brief, Prohibition has not only failed to work the benefits that its proponents promised in 1917; it has brought in so many new evils that even the mob has turned against it. But do the Prohibitionists admit the fact frankly, and repudiate their original nonsense? They do not. On the contrary, they keep on demanding more and worse enforcement statutes — that is to say, more and worse devices for harassing and persecuting their opponents.

    The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate, which is to say: upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.

    They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.
    Replace alcohol with cannabis and you will see we are in the same place now 90 years later. Legalize!

  5. Long gone are the days when police could claim “we don’t write the laws, we just enforce them”.

  6. A Freedom Fighter

    The US government has known all along that cannabis is safer than booze. The fact that it is still illegal in 2016 is beyond belief.

    The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (a.k.a. “the Shafer Commission”) created by Richard M. Nixon to study the “marijuana problem”, formally made its recommendation on March 22, 1972 advising Congress to remove criminal penalties on the possession and nonprofit distribution of marijuana.

    “Neither the marihuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety,” concluded the report’s authors, led by then-Gov. Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania. “Therefore, the Commission recommends that the possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, and that the casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration no longer be an offense.”

    Despite the Shafer commission’s recommendations, Nixon and Congress completely ignored the report. Since then nearly 100 million Americans have been arrested on simple possession of marijuana charges for nothing. FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana smoker is arrested every 45 seconds in America!

    Legalize, regulate and TAX!

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