NEW ORLEANS - During the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee meeting tomorrow morning, members will hear historical and analytical perspectives on cannabis enforcement in New Orleans brought forth at the request of Council President Helena Moreno. The presentation by the Vera Institute’s Will Snowden and Council Criminal Justice Analyst Jeff Asher will highlight the persistent racial inequities in cannabis enforcement and the harm those inequities pose to communities of color.
“While the City is restricted from legalizing cannabis, we do have the power to decrease municipal penalties for marijuana possession to the point that it’s no longer worth enforcing. Decriminalizing cannabis isn’t just about reducing incarceration, but about ending historic bias in enforcement and promoting equal justice. This also speaks to better use of our resources so that officers can focus on serious crimes," said Council President Helena Moreno.
Preliminary indications from recent data reveal over 85% of municipal citations for cannabis possession are imposed on African-Americans. Fines and fees assessed for cannabis possession total more than $250,000 in costs annually. Prior to the pandemic, more than 2,400 citations were issued per year.
Moreno continued, "The reports to be presented Monday highlight the ways in which criminalization of cannabis overwhelmingly impact communities of color without any appreciable effect on public safety. It’s up to us to end these unjust practices and build a more equitable city from the ground up.”
The Criminal Justice Committee meets Monday, April 26, at 10 AM. Watch the meeting or submit public comment here.
Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno