New Orleans police will have even more leeway to issue citations for simple marijuana possession after the City Council voted 7-0 Thursday (March 17) to enact new standards aimed at reducing the number of arrests for low-level drug crime.
Local law already allowed NOPD officers to write a ticket for first-offense possession, and they still have the option to use the stricter state law that calls for arrests. Council members Susan Guidry and Jason Williams backed the ordinance that allows police to issue summonses for third and subsequent simple possession charges.
“Our hope with this is that fewer people will be brought to jail and fewer people will have their lives disrupted with this charge,” Guidry said.
The new law doesn’t make it legal to smoke marijuana in New Orleans; it only lessens the penalties for possession of small amounts. Fines would start at $40 for a first offense and be capped at $100 for fourth offenses and beyond. Cases would be tried in Municipal Court, as opposed being handled as state cases in Orleans Criminal District Court. [Read more at the New Orleans Times Picayune]