As Louisiana proceeds to have some of the worst penalties against cannabis possession in the United States, the City of New Orleans looks to become a positive impact on the outdated system by revealing to the rest of Louisiana that it no longer needs to incarcerate those who smoke marijuana often.
On Thursday, the City Council passed a new law in a vote that ended up 7t to 0. The ordinance would allow the New Orleans Police Department to handle all light cannabis offenders with just a citation rather than putting them into the criminal justice system. Albeit policemen working the NOLA beat already could ticket people who were caught for the first time with marijuana, the same benevolence is not provided to those who have already been issued a citation once.
Under the new law, which was proposed a few months ago by Councilwoman Susan Guidry, anyone found with small portions of marijuana, regardless of the past, would be punished with just a fine – officers would no longer incarcerate offenders and force them to court.
An earlier version of Guidry’s bill stated that officers would have the ability to give out verbal and written warnings to some offenders, however, the writing was altered before the vote. The new version would allow city officers to give first-time offenders a fine of $40, but the monetary penalties would maximize at $100 for fourth or more offenses.
Now the measure just waits upon Mayor Mitch Landrieu to sign the ordinance for it to come into place. Yesterday, in a statement supporting the Council’s most recent actions, Landrieu stated, “The ordinance will become law.” However, although the ordinance seems like it will soon be a definite law in Louisiana, there is still a chance that cannabis offenders may still be hurt by officers.