NORML.ORG – New Orleans: City Council Unanimously Votes In Favor Of Depenalizing Pot Possession Offenses

New Orleans, LA: Members of the New Orleans City Council unanimously decided last week to designate minor marijuana possession crimes as municipal offenses, The Times-Picayune newspaper has reported.

Under the new law, city police may issue a summons (similar to a traffic ticket) for minor marijuana crimes in lieu of making an arrest and taking a defendant to jail. "Because a summons is prosecuted in Municipal Court, not Criminal District Court, the change will reduce the caseload of the judges and prosecutors who handle serious felonies," The Times-Picayune reported.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry, co-chairwoman of the council’s Criminal Justice Committee, called the change "an important step in increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of our criminal justice system."

Under Louisiana state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Subsequent offenses are categorized as felonies punishable by between five and twenty years in prison.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.

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