New Orleans may loosen penalties for marijuana possession


The New Orleans Advocate

The New Orleans Advocate

Smoking a joint in New Orleans could be treated like a minor traffic infraction if an ordinance drawn up by City Councilwoman Susan Guidry becomes law.

The proposed change builds on Guidry’s previous effort to have police de-emphasize arrests for possession of marijuana. An ordinance passed in 2010 allowed officers to issue summonses rather than arrest those with small amounts of the drug.

Her office credits that shift with a 50 percent reduction in marijuana arrests in the city. Those arrests would otherwise be contributing to what Guidry and other city officials argue is excessive incarceration under laws that are disproportionately enforced against residents who are black or poor.

Guidry plans to introduce further changes this week, with a first discussion at a Wednesday hearing of the council’s Criminal Justice Committee, which she chairs.

It is unclear whether any other council members will support her move.

Read the full story at The New Orleans Advocate.