The New Orleans, Louisiana City Council Criminal Justice Committee has unanimously approved a proposed ordinance that would decriminalize possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis, dismiss more than 10,000 low-level cannabis possession crimes, and pardon all future minor possession charges, KLFY reports.
Council President Helena Moreno has maintained that data shows 86% of cannabis summons in the city are issued to Black people. She has indicated she would like to fully legalize cannabis for adults in the city but is unable due to state law.
“We can’t make it legal but what we can do is enforce our laws and put in mechanisms that puts us as close to legalization. This is important for racial and social justice when we end the conviction for this drug charge we’re going to help with housing and employment issues.”—Moreno to WAFB
The law would not allow people to use cannabis in public and state law would still apply but it would change how the New Orleans Police Department handles such cases in the city.
Earlier this month, Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a measure making possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine and no possibility of jail. During the signing ceremony, Edwards said he believed “deeply that the state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states.”
In March, the Shreveport City Council approved a measure to decriminalize up to 14 grams of cannabis for adults 21-and-older becoming just the third city in the state to approve such reforms.
New Orleans’ proposal still needs to go before the full council, which according to KLFY could take weeks.
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