By Derrick Stanley
On Monday the Orlando City Council voted to approve an ordinance that would effectively decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The measure narrowly passed, with a vote of 4-3, making possession of 20 grams or less a violation of a city code with a $50 fine for first offenders.
Supporters, including dozens of residents, outnumbered opponents at the meeting on Monday.
One of the three council members voting no, Commissioner Samuel Ings said the measure would hurt Orlando's image as a family friendly tourist destination and represents a "slippery slope."
"We don't have to follow the trend that other cities have started just because it has become popular," said Ortiz, who argued not enough data is yet available to determine the impact of similar policies.
The four voting in favor were commissioners Regina Hill, Patty Sheehan, Robert Stuart and Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Orlando police chief John Mina and Mayor Dyer urged approval of the ordinance, similar to pot policies recently adopted in other municipalities, including Tampa and Volusia County.
Marijuana possession will remain a state crime. Mina said officers may still make arrests for even small amounts of marijuana, depending on circumstances including the offender's record.