TPD: Getting caught with weed will still rough

Posted at 6:46 PM, Mar 04, 2016

If Tampa's new weed ordinance is approved to decriminalize small amounts of pot, it's still not going to make a police stop pleasant.

"It was embarrassing. I mean, hundreds of people saw me in handcuffs,” said USF graduate Carlos Hermida.

It’s one of those stories from college Carlos Hermida isn't so proud to tell.

"I was pulled over right in front of the University of South Florida. I was pulled over leaving class,” he said.

Hermida was arrested for a gram of marijuana on his way to grab a bite to eat.

"It's about a joint and a half's worth,” he said.

His education was in jeopardy and his future.

"It definitely made my life a lot harder and it definitely hurt my pockets-- having to go through the court system, having to do the divergent program, having to go through drug treatment,” said Hermida.

If a new city ordinance passes March 17th, small amounts of pot, 20 grams or less, will be  decriminalized. You'll be ticketed, not taken to jail.

"If it's a car stop, you might be there for a little while and it might really ruin your night.,” said Tampa Police Department Spokesperson Steve Hegarty.

Still a Tampa Police spokesperson says being caught with marijuana will not be a pleasant experience.

"We would have to gather it. We would have to gather it. We would have to detain you so it promises to be something of an ordeal,” said Hegarty.

The ordinance which city leaders gave a first nod to this week would impose graduated fines starting at $75 dollars.

"We would also have to look you up in our system. Is it your first offense, your second offense, your third offense? Are there other offenses that might change our mind about whether this applies or not? Because it doesn't apply to everyone,” said Hegarty.

Ultimately, it's up to the police officer's discretion-- another thing to keep in mind.

But Hermida says it would be a step in the right direction from how it used to be.

"I was never thrown in a cell but a big part of what happened was, I had to spend a lot of money to you know, correct this wrong,” he said.