NEW ORLEANS - The approval process to end the criminalization of simple possession of marijuana will begin in the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee today, June 29 at 2 p.m.
Council President Helena Moreno introduced ordinances to fully decriminalize municipal simple possession of marijuana last month after a recent analysis showed an alarming number of summons written for the charge; 2400 in 2019 with 86% issued to Black people. The NOPD manpower hours associated with these summonses are also problematic. Police are currently required to write reports, have a supervisor review the report and log evidence associated with the summons, which averages about an hour per summons issued. Council President Moreno believes that police manpower can be better utilized focusing on more serious matters than writing pot tickets.
The Council President’s proposal includes:
1. Only simple possession of marijuana in the City Code is applicable.
2. Automatic pardons of any future summons without further police action, meaning all future tickets are void.
3. Retroactive pardons of those previously convicted or have pending cases.
4. The expansion of smoke-free NOLA regulations to address public smoking.
Why this change must happen:
1. Prioritizes police and court resources for more serious matters.
2. It’s a positive step toward racial and social justice.
3. Eliminates this drug conviction from a person’s record.
4. Prevents people from being entangled in fines and fees of the criminal justice system and facing the associated harms in housing and employment that come from criminalization.
"I’m excited to work through the approval process and I’m incredibly grateful to advocacy groups and the people of our city for their support of this next big and final step for decriminalization,” said President Moreno."The public sentiment and momentum are there for decriminalization and legalization. While the Council cannot legalize, we can 100% end criminalization. It took a great deal of work and out-of-the-box thinking by our Council staff to get this legislative package completed which will ultimately lead to promoting equal justice and better use of our NOPD resources.”
Tuesday’s Criminal Justice Committee will begin at 2 p.m. The Council Chamber is now open to the public to attend meetings in person. Public comment can be accepted in person or online at Council.Nola.gov.