Recent Statistics on Civil Violation Citations for Marijuana in Tampa

Earlier this year, the City Council in Tampa passed a city ordinance, Tampa Code Section 14-62.

The ordinance attempted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana less than 20 grams and the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. 

The problem is that officers with Tampa Police Department are not issuing the citations in all cases. 

Our last blog article explains why TPD officers are still taking people to jail. In many of these cases, TPD officers are seizing vehicle so they can collect the $500 civil penalty (with an additional $450 being paid for towing and storage).

Read more about how marijuana citations are issued under Tampa Code Section 14-62.

In fact, TPD is issuing the citations less than half of the time in these cases. The other half of the time, TPD is still arresting people for a criminal charge under state law. During the last six month period, 409 citations were issued but 529 people were arrested for marijuana.

People identified as "black" were cited and arrested more often than those identified as "white." During that period 243 black people were issued a civil violation citation for possession of marijuana while only 160 white people were cited for the same violation.

For those people arrested for misdemeanor marijuana charges during that period, 306 were identified as black and 222 were identified as white.

I recently obtained a report filed by TPD at the request of the Tampa City Council to address the effectiveness of the program during a six-month period from March 31, 2016, through September 30, 2016. That report provided these statistics: 


Time Period: March 31 through September 30, 2016.

1. Total number of citations issued?                 409
2. How many paid civil fine within 30 days? 198
3. How many had previous citation issued?      3
4. Racial distribution: 1-0, A-3, B-243, W-160, U-3
5. Ethnicity:         Hispanic 27 Non-Hispanic 148

Adult Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests (Charges) Total: 529
1. Racial distribution: 1-0, A-I, B-306, W-222, U-O
2. Ethnicity:         Hispanic 61 Non-Hispanic 359
3. Reason arrest instead of citation:
a. Other charges:         135
b. Insufficient ties to Hillsborough County:    9
c. Prior unpaid marijuana citation:    1
d. Officer discretion:   41

Same Time Period 2015 Adult Marijuana Arrests: 921

Code Descriptors: 
I - American Indian / Alaskan Native 
A - Asian / Pacific Islander
B - Black
W - White
U - Unknown
Demographic Detail of Unpaid Marijuana Civil Citations
Total 211 records
Total Male Female
Black                      148      120      28
White                         61        42      19
Asian/Pacific Islander                           2          1         1
American Indian/Alaskan Native                           0
Unknown                           0

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