New Orleans softens marijuana possession laws starting this week

New Orleans softens marijuana possession laws starting this week

Published on 6/28/16

New Orleans, Louisiana passed a law that went into effect last week allowing first time and repeat offenders to be issued a summons for court instead of an arrest for personal marijuana possession. A citation will replace the arrest at $40 for first offenders, and growing with each additional offense. The decision comes from the city wanting to spend less police time on low level crimes and create faster response rates on emergency calls. Anyone over the age of 17 caught with less than 2.5 pounds of marijuana will be under the officer's discretion if the drug is for personal use or intended for distribution, though any arrests made must be approved by a supervisor. Louisiana State Troopers will continue operating under state law and arresting offenders even within New Orleans city limits. 

Starting Wednesday (June 22), simple possession of marijuana in New Orleans will carry far fewer consequences for repeat offenders. Police have been able since 2010 to issue a court summons to someone caught for the first time with weed. Now that option will extend to subsequent offenses.

The City Council approved an ordinance in March that gives New Orleans police greater latitude on pot possession. They are attempting to help police spend less time on minor crimes and keep low-level offenders out of the city's jail.

The new law applies to anyone over the age of 17 holding less than 2.5 pounds of marijuana. It will be at the discretion of the police officer to determine whether the pot is for personal use or if the suspect intended to distribute it.

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