Official wants to Decriminalize Pot

By Al Pefley  email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

A south Florida elected official has come up with a controversial proposal to save money for taxpayers.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson says he favors making it legal to use and possess a small amount of marijuana for recreational use, perhaps an ounce or less.

Currently, it's illegal and people who are caught are charged with a misdemeanor.

The county is facing a $120 million dollar budget shortfall next year, and Aaronson says it would save taxpayers' money to stop arresting and putting these people in jail for possessing a small amount of pot.

"To me it's something we should decriminalize. A person shouldn't have a record for something like this. People are yelling about paying higher taxes, I'm looking to see if there are ways that we can do things that won't harm the public but will cut down on the expenses that we have," Aaronson said.

He told us smoking a small amount of pot is really not much different than drinking.

"Hey,  people go ahead and have two or three drinks. They don't get put into jail and they're just as dangerous as somebody that may be smoking marijuana," Aaronson said.

Aaronson says he hasn't yet determined how much money Palm Beach County could save by decriminalizing marijuana possession.  But he feels it would save the sheriff's office money by putting fewer people behind bars, and would also save court expenses.

He says possessing pot it in large amounts would still be illegal, and it would remain illegal to sell marijuana in Palm Beach County under his plan.