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Key Flagler Panel Votes 7-5 To Endorse Pot Citation Proposal, But Split Reflects Hazy Fate

| August 10, 2016

pot civil citations

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre, right, has been pushing for the pot civil citation program since January, along with County Commissioner Barbara Revels, but his difficult re-election campaign has some city officials wondering if they shouldn’t wait until after November to decide whether to even discuss the proposal. Revels said she intends to do so regardless, but she, too, faces re-election. Judge Melissa Moore Stens was to the left at this morning meeting of the Public Safety Coordinating Council, where the pot civil citation proposal was endorsed, 7-5. (© FlaglerLive)

The 7-5 vote of the Public Safety Coordinating Council this morning finally approved a proposed county ordinance that would in some cases de-criminalize the possession of small amounts of pot. Cops would have the discretion to issue a civil citation like a traffic ticket instead. The vote culminates months of discussions about a proposal initiated by Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre in January and since ushered through the council by Barbara Revels, the county commissioner who chairs the council.

But the vote reflected deep divisions in the county over the proposal and the many obstacles it faces before having the force of law. Its chances to make it that far appear increasingly slim even though one of the votes in favor today was that of Jason Lewis, representing the State Attorney’s Office. He joined Manfre after spending the last few months more critically recrafting the proposal and eliminating from it any chance of expanding the civil citation program to other lesser crimes.

Today’s vote is advisory only. It pulls the proposal out of the safety council and sends it to the county commission and Flagler’s five municipal governments for their vote. For the ordinance to be effective, Revels has told council members—just as she told the Bunnell City Commission Monday evening—cities must opt into the system. If not, the ordinance would not be in effect within their borders, diluting its reach. Bunnell’s police chief and city manager so far have been opposed, Flagler Beach’s police chief has not been enthusiastic about it, and two Palm Coast City Council members have vehemently voiced opposition to the ordinance, though one of them is resigning Monday.

The county commission has yet to have a discussion about it, but at one member—Charlie Ericksen—has come out in opposition. Revels is clearly in favor. That’ll leave it to Commissioners George Hanns and Nate McLaughlin to decide.

At least the proposed ordinance now has the endorsement of the Public Safety Coordinating Council, a collection of the county’s police, judicial, social service and other government agencies—however divided that endorsement.

A divided vote reflects a divided county on going easy over pot.

“The division shows that it’s still an issue that’s got more work to do. We’ll see how it transpires,” Revels said.

Manfre said it should still be a county priority to lobby the Legislature to win a statewide adult citation program, which has more support even from council members. If the juvenile citation program works, he said, it can work for adults.

“It’s going to come up again, I’ve been reading a lot of the literature, there’s a lot of frustration,” Manfre said of a statewide bill in the Legislature, making it incumbent on Flagler’s officials “to make sure it’s fashioned the way it makes sense.”

But Revels cautioned against a statewide system, which she said could be imposed on counties without taking heed of local differences.

David Kerr, representing the Department of Juvenile Justice, voted against, as did Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster, the Department of Corrections’ Tammi Schimming, Karen Lloyd, the director of operations for judicial corrections services, and Greg Feldman, an at-large member of the panel. Kerr was not entirely opposed. He initially sought to abstain to reflect his conflicted reaction to the proposal, but abstaining was not an option unless he had a direct conflict (as was the case with Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, who abstained because she would be ruling on cases resulting from the ordinance). So he voted no, principally because he was displeased with the lack of consequences for those who don’t pay the $250 fine.

Feldman was not opposed to the proposal because he’s opposed to it in principle, but because he doesn’t think it goes far enough in addressing the causes that lead people to smoke pot.

Click On:

“We’re going to encounter people who aren’t necessarily doing this for the first time. It’s maybe the first time they got caught. And I think we’re saying you know what? Write us a check and we’ll forgive you. I think it needs to go farther than that. I think it needs to address any underlying causes. I’m not worried about medical marijuana. I think that’s a wonderful thing. I’m worried about person Number One, the kid who’s been smoking it way out through high school and into college and now, for the first time they did something stupid and got caught. We need to address that.” He points to an American Bar Association quote he had in his paperwork: “Oftentimes first-time adult offenders are in need of rehabilitation and treatment, not a conviction and incarceration.” The ordinance, he said, averts harsh punishment but fails to provide for treatment.

Revels, who’s historically favored treatment programs, had called the proposal a baby step to a larger goal. Revels is also an incremental pragmatist: getting this far was hard enough (Feldman joined the panel only last month). She wants a proposal solidified in the form of an ordinance and municipal buy-in before moving on to other components such as treatment.

Monday evening at the Bunnell City Commission, when the ordinance was discussed for the first time (after Foster and Dan Davis, the city manager, forcefully spoke against it) Bill Baxley, one of the commissioners, hinted at what may be the preferred refrain of city governments from now until November: with the possibility of a new sheriff in November, why vote now?

Revels, however, didn’t give that approach much creed. “I don’t know how my county commission is going to vote because I haven’t been able to discuss it with them,” revels told Baxley and the rest of the commission. “I have been taking this forward at the same time the sheriff was interested in doing it. There are other communities that have done it that I have studied that have done a really good job with it, and it’s helped a few people out. Can it be abused? Yes. But if the sheriff is not reelected, I don’t intend to drop it, unless the county votes it down, unless other cities all vote against it, then it’s kind of a moot point. But if another sheriff comes to town and is elected, they can sit with their officers and decide if they want to employ the ordinance in some areas or in some cases. Again, it’s all officer-driven.”

Revels, too, of course, is facing re-election in November.

How the vote broke down:

For the proposed ordinance: Barbara Revels, Jacob Bryant (for Ivan Cosimi), Robin King, Jason Lewis, Jim Manfre, Bill Patrington (for Public Defender Jim Purdy, who was away), and Becky Quintieri.

Against: David Kerr, Tom Foster, Tammi Schimming, Karen Lloyd, and Greg Feldman.

The proposed civil citation ordinance and FAQ about it:

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15 Responses for “Key Flagler Panel Votes 7-5 To Endorse Pot Citation Proposal, But Split Reflects Hazy Fate”

  1. Layla says:

    So now we have a local Sheriff ignoring federal and state law and proposing his own? Will there be in increase in Barbara Revel’s line of credit again over this one?

    Are the people of Flagler County ASLEEP? Or just in a pot stupor. Good riddance, Sheriff Manfre. Your term as Sheriff cannot come soon enough. Vote these people out.

  2. Barbara says:

    [Note: the “Barbara” in the comment’s handle is not Council and Commission Chairman Barbara Revels.–FL]

    You are all wasting precious time right now because in the near future it will become state law. The legalization of marijuana miay even become a national law so move on and get it passed.

  3. dave says:

    This is all BS, the whole thing, you know what? Keep it illegal and further divide our the people’s trust in our leaders. I’m so sick of this being an issue, you have thousands of adults who use marijuana in your county and you are keeping them down. I don’t see rehab for people caught with an open container of alchohol! And what’s with the cops being able to use discretion? ! That’s crap no discretion jus a citation ,thank you and have a nice day. Y’all are so messed up in Flagler County

  4. A Little Common Sense Please says:

    Not good at all! I know who not to vote for now-or ever. Barbara Revels, Jacob Bryant (for Ivan Cosimi), Robin King, Jason Lewis, Jim Manfre, Bill Patrington (for Public Defender Jim Purdy, who was away), and Becky Quintieri. None of you people will ever get my vote again, even if you are running for Dog Catcher! Disgusting!

  5. proud yankee says:

    whats the point? Allowing officers discretion in whether or not to issue a citation or an arrest makes this useless.

    No thanks, state wide decrim in 2018 by popular vote.

  6. TeddyBallGame says:

    “Key Flagler Panel Votes 7-5 To Endorse Pot Citation Proposal, But Split Reflects Hazy Fate”

    Good stuff.

  7. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    This is a good thing.

  8. Wishful Thinking says:

    I agree with ‘Barbara’, ‘dave’ comments and brave Barbara Revels..
    Stop this nonsense and just abolish all penalties unless a driver is obviously driving ‘stoned’ or is carrying over an ounce – 28 grams which is a very common amount for self use. Buy as much hard liquor as you want and destroy your liver and maybe kill someone drunk driving but that’s okay – God grown pot which has proven positive benefits and no real negative effects – other than hypocrites opposing legalizing what God legalized when he created our planet…
    Has Colorado or Washington – Alaska or D.C. seen a rise in DUI or iver related illness since having the intelligence to legalize what hundreds of thousands of decent (otherwise) law abiding people use for medical or even just to relax from the stress of today’s insane world ? NO – so be done with it and stop playing stupid political correctness games and use plain common sense. Barbara Revels has a brain – others should follow suit.

  9. Jan Reeger says:

    40 years ago ~ yes, 40 years, I was shocked when I found out my team of attorneys smoked pot. I never got into it but throughout these last 40 years, I have become aware of the massive amount of people who do it recreationally and consistently, doing no harm. Our citizenry would be amazed if they had any clue about the numbers of noteworthy adults who partake. My awareness also includes sad stories when some have suffered excessive penalty for minor infractions. I appreciate the concerns for our youth but most of the time, their problems are because they expand their use beyond marijuana and there will always be those who abuse combined with other problems. All things considered, I am a proponent of decriminalization.

  10. steve miller says:

    Let the people vote

  11. Fredrick says:

    This is all just MADNESS!!!

  12. Layla says:

    CBS News Source: Marijuana To Remain Classified As Dangerous Drug In U.S.

  13. Jim says:

    People should remember how the drug war and marijuana criminalization began during Richard Nixon’s presidency. John Erlichman, his domestic policy advisor, is quoted in a Harpers Magazine interview (article by Dan Baum, April 2016) that Nixon had two big enemies — antiwar activists and blacks. By making pot illegal they could go after the antiwar activists. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” It just doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that pot should be a Schedule I drug.

  14. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    Cannabis shouldn’t be a schedule I drug, and placing the scheduling for it in the hands of the DEA or the FDA is like letting a drunk run a liquor store. The DEA owes its existence to the war on drugs, continuing that war regardless of facts is entirely in their best interests, and they are entirely unethical about it. The FDA, well, watch the FRONTLINE documentaries “dangerous prescription” and “supplements and safety” to get a feel for exactly how uninterested they are about public health issues or actual science.

    Keeping cannabis schedule I means that both the DEA and FDA believe that it has no medical benefits and has a high potential for abuse. And yet the FDA had no issues approving Dronabinol (schedule II) for use in patients with HIV/AIDS and chemotherapy, and guess what? It comes from cannabis. Even the CDC, which actually gives a crap about public health issues, recognizes the correlation between cannabis legalization and reduction in opioid deaths. So you have an agency responsible in part for the public’s health approve a drug that has a synthetic version of one of the primary active ingredients in a plant for medical use, while claiming that the plant has no medical use.

    No one that understands how the FDA and the DEA operate expected them to reschedule cannabis. That’s only going to happen through an executive order or by throwing out all of the detritus in the senate and in congress.

  15. CLS says:

    “David Kerr, representing the Department of Juvenile Justice, voted against, as did Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster, the Department of Corrections’ Tammi Schimming, Karen Lloyd, the director of operations for judicial corrections services, and Greg Feldman, an at-large member of the panel.”

    Of COURSE they don’t want it, it takes money away from their privatized prison system (and the corporation-mandated filled-cell percentages required).

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