18 March 2016
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.
No stance yet from NOPD on marijuana proposal
NOPD Chief Michael Harrison was asked where he stands on Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s proposal to allow police to issue a summons for second-offense marijuana possession.
Questions arose during Thursday’s council meeting about police policy on when to issue a summons versus making an arrest. Guidry said the NOPD was working with the federal monitor overseeing its adherence to a consent decree to determine how the new ordinance would be enforced.