Florida: County Commissioner Proposes Reducing Sheriff's Budget For Each Pot Bust Made

FLORIDA: A county commissioner in northern Florida has been talking with local law enforcement officials about ways to reduce the number of marijuana arrests in the county, and he’s come up with a novel approach. As an incentive to get deputies to turn a blind eye to pot, Alachua County Commissioner Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson has proposed reducing the sheriff’s budget by a set amount for each arrest made.

Hutchinson said he believes the focus should be on treatment instead of incarceration. Reducing the budget would steer the Sheriff’s Office toward using its resources on more pressing concerns, he said, reports Beatrice Dupuy at Gainesville.com.

Not surprisingly, Sheriff Sadie Darnell is opposed to that plan to dock her office’s funding, and no other commissioners have signed on to it. But the various players, including State Attorney Bill Cervone, Public Defender Stacy Scott and others said they are open to discussions on how to deal with marijuana as long as it remains illegal, reports staff writer Cindy Swirko at Gainesville.com.

Alachua County, and particularly Gainesville, have a long and storied history with cannabis. “Gainesville Green” attained local fame back in the 1970s, reportedly putting cheap Mexican and Jamaican weed to shame. The annual Hempfest events in Gainesville drew thousands of attendees, many of whom scrambled for joints in the “doobie toss.”

“The locally grown cannabis was green and fluffy,” said Jodi James, executive director of Florida’s Cannabis Action Network,” reports Brandon Battey at Orange & Blue. “No mystery to the name; the strain was very green and grown in Gainesville, thus ‘Gainesville Green,’ ” James said.

“Gainesville Green was also higher potency than the Mexican that most people were used to at the time, so it was considered premium,” James said. It reportedly cost about $120 a pound.

“I don’t know who sold Gainesville Green, but I do know lots of people always had plenty,” James said. “It was the most plentiful place for pot that I had ever been to.”

Subterranean Circus off West University Avenue was the top head shop, and a compound of houses off Southwest Fourth Street was called Fort Ganja.

Waldo’s Chief of Police, A.W. Smith, was involved with narcotics control in Alachua County from 1971 to 1980, and again from 1987 to 1992. He says he seized “a lot of pot.” Smith estimates that 22 to 25 tons of marijuana were confiscated in Alachua County from 1970 to 1980.


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