New Orleans Attempting to Decriminalize Marijuana
The decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana is one step closer to becoming a reality in New Orleans.
The City Council's Criminal Justice unanimously approved the idea, but getting certain law enforcement agencies to go along might be a different story.
Louisiana's laws regulating marijuana still would supersede those on the books in the Crescent City for State Police or any other agency patrolling there other than NOPD. Thus, they could still fine or arrest any person possessing marijuana.
But, the committee's actions would ultimately change how NOPD handles marijuana cases. The proposed legislation would dismiss more than 10,000 previously charged marijuana cases, pardon all future minor possession of marijuana charges. However, it would prohibit public smoking of weed.
"I don't smoke weed. Never been my thing," said Councilmember Jay Banks.
But, Banks still doesn't believe that those who want to have a small amount of pot should not go to jail.
"I believe that the public's interest is much better served with our police focused on people that are committing violent crimes against all of us," Banks said.
The Criminal Justice Committee believes that changing the city's cannabis law would be a step in the right direction toward equity and justice.
Council President Moreno maintains that statistics show a bias in enforcement with 86% of summons being issued to black people. The council believes this has negative impacts on employment and housing.
Keep in mind, the council's proposal wouldn't legalize marijuana use totally, but it would decriminalize possession of 14 grams or less.
The committee's suggestion comes after Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed a bill that eliminates the possibility of jail time for small amounts of marijuana (14 grams or less).
How long will it be before New Orleans makes this proposal a reality? It still needs to go before the full city council, and that could take several weeks.
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