Penalties for Marijuana Possession Reduced in New Orleans
About a month ago, I wrote about the possibility of the New Orleans City Counsel reducing the penalties for possession of Marijuana in the city limits.
The Counsel voted unanimously on March 17 to allow police more leeway in issuing citations for simple marijuana possession.
The 7-0 decision marks a policy change by city leaders that’s aimed at reducing the number of arrests for minor drug crimes, the Times-Picayune newspaper reported.
A city ordinance already gave New Orleans police the authority to write a ticket for first-offense possession. The ordinance that allows police to issue summonses for third and subsequent simple possession charges, according to the newspaper.
It’s still illegal to smoke marijuana in New Orleans; police also will retain the right to apply a stricter state law to people who are caught with pot, depending on the circumstances of the arrest. But the new local law lessens the penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis, the newspaper said.
Fines would begin at $40 for a first offense and would be capped at $100 for fourth offenses and beyond. Cases would be tried in Municipal Court, as opposed to Criminal District Court.
The police department is working on a policy to determine when to use the stricter state standards, NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble told the Picayune.
It is important to understand that these lesser penalties only apply within Orleans Parish, not the entire state of Louisiana.