Florida’s Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy on Wednesday launched a drive to gather signatures to get a marijuana decriminalization initiative on the Miami Beach ballots this November.

The CSMP is a statewide political action committee that is currently supporting municipal decriminalization ballot initiatives in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville Beach. The group needs to gather 4,240 signatures to qualify for the Miami Beach ballot.

“The decriminalization ballot we are promoting is an exercise in direct democracy that lowers punishment for possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana, giving police the power to order a citation and prosecutors to levy a $100 dollar fine,” CSMP campaign director Ford Banister tells The Florida Independent.

Harvard economist and libertarian Jeffrey Miron, author of Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition, recently told CNN, “We regulate substances that could be potentially dangerous like alcohol and cigarettes but we leave them as legal goods to avoid the underground markets that create violence.”

The Sun-Sentinel reported yesterday:

Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower said she would not support such a change in the city’s code, and questioned whether marijuana laws could be changed in Miami Beach alone. …

Prosecutors and voters have weakened laws against personal marijuana possession in cities and towns such as Seattle and Breckenridge, Colo., and the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy was successful with a similar 2008 ballot initiative in Massachusetts.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, current director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, issued an official statement in 2009 emphasizing, “Marijuana legalization, for any purpose, remains a non-starter in the Obama Administration.”

In 2004, Barack Obama said, “The drug wars have been a failure and we need to decriminalize our marijuana laws, but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization.”

Banister stresses, “This is a five- to 10-year campaign to decriminalize marijuana in the U.S.”

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