Members of the New Orleans City Council approved a city ordinance late last night effectively removing local penalties for low-intensity marijuana possession offenses. In a separate action, city officials also decided to overturn thousands of previous marijuana-related convictions.
Under previous city policy, police issued summons for minor marijuana possession offenses. Those summoned to appear had to pay a fine and risked having a criminal record. Under the new policy, all fines are waived and anyone fined will receive a âforgiveness leadâ. No police report of the interaction will be generated and no court appearance is necessary.
The new decriminalization policy comes into effect on September 15.
Those who smoke cannabis in public will continue to be cited for violating the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act.
A separate ordinance passed by the city clears the criminal records of anyone convicted since 2010 of a low-intensity marijuana possession offense. It is estimated that around 10,000 residents will benefit from a general pardon as part of this action. Those who face pending charges will also see their case aside.
“This policy will help the NOPD build community confidence and aims to save man-hours so that they can instead focus on core issues such as shootings, murders, and overall prevention of crime. violence in our city, âsaid City Council President Helena Moreno. âThe time has come to end the criminalization of cannabis possession. “
State-wide legislation partially decriminalizing minor cannabis possession offenses came into effect on Sunday. Unlike the New Orleans city ordinance, the new state law does not give relief to those who have already been convicted and does not eliminate fines for those who own small amounts of the plant.