Cannabis Decriminalized in New Orleans
On Thursday, August 5, New Orleans took a historic step. The New Orleans City Council passed a series of articles to pardon cannabis-related charges and any future charges. Effectively aiming to decriminalize cannabis, the city is making an effort to work with the NOPD to end the war on weed. While they cannot make it completely legal at a state level, they are working towards allowing the department to focus on major crimes.
The unanimous vote pardoned an estimated 10,000 people summoned to court for possession of cannabis. Additionally, City Council plans to pardon all future citations for cannabis possession. However, smoking weed in public is still prohibited, but as a violation of the smoke-free air act rather than a drug offence. The decision of cannabis decriminalizing brings New Orleans as close to fully legalizing cannabis as possible and comes amid a broader shift in public attitude towards cannabis across the United States.
“The time to end the criminalization of cannabis possession is now,” said council member Helena Moreno.
An end to criminalization
In the United States, cannabis is decriminalized in 37 states. Recreational cannabis use is legal in 19 states, and an additional 17 states, including Louisiana, have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. While with cannabis being decriminalized in New Orleans the cannabis use will not be fully legalized, but it will decriminalize possession of up to 14 grams.
The United States has grappled with the war on drugs for almost 80 years. These shifts in law, particularly in the US, are a step towards justice in the country and beyond. Moreno reiterated the bias in enforcement, with statistics showing 86 percent of summons issued to Black people. “We’re no longer going to trap people into the criminal justice system,” said New Orleans resident Adrian Bruneau via KLFY.
Before the new legislation takes effect, the proposal is awaiting review by the full city council. The process could take several weeks.