NBC-2 took a look at the actual cost to taxpayers of the prosecution of marijuana offenses. As a sample, they found that on one day there were 29 offenders in the Collier County jail for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. At a cost of more than $100 per day to house them, that totaled over $3,000.00 in incarceration fees- just for one day! Lee county, with a larger population, likely has even more marijuana offenders.
The costs calculated by NBC does not include the other costs: costs for the prosecutor’s office, court administration fees, and legal defense costs (because it’s a criminal offense, all defendants are entitled to have an attorney, and the state pays if they cannot afford it.) Some of these costs are offset by imposing financial assessments to the defendants… but the guys (and gals) in jail won’t be paying them.
Further, and one of the main complaints of those who are challenging are the collateral consequences: people are burdened with the stigma of arrest, they are followed around by their convictions and mug shots, and in Florida, a conviction also leads to a mandatory driver’s license suspension! That makes it even harder for people to put their mistakes behind them and to be productive members of society: if they can’t drive, a lot of people lose their jobs, for instance. That’s why it’s imperative to get an experienced criminal law attorney to represent you if you get arrested- even if it’s ‘just a little weed’.