New Orleans: Marijuana Possession Arrests Plunge Following Enactment Of Decriminalization Ordinance

Minor marijuana possession arrests have plunged in the city of New Orleans following the adoption of a municipal ordinance one year ago that called for fining rather than arresting low-level offenders.

According to data made available last week, just one percent of encounters between police and someone accused of possessing marijuana resulted in an arrest between June 2016 and May 2017. In prior years, over 70 percent of such encounters resulted in an arrest. In those cases, some 75 percent of those arrested were African Americans.

Under Louisiana state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration of up to eight years, depending on whether the person convicted is a repeat offender.

In March of last year, members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to 0 in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $100. In recent years, nearly 60 municipalities in states where cannabis remains criminalized have enacted local ordinances either partially or fully decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

According to a study published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the enactment of recent statewide decriminalization laws has similarly resulted in a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests while having no adverse impact on youth use patterns.

6 thoughts

  1. This is great news. It’s nice to see pot smokers not treated like criminals.

  2. One of the greatest civil rights victories for people of lower income in New Orleans since Dr King marched on Washington. It’s impossible for those of us who never served time for small possession what a life-changing impact simple decrim can have on young adults joining the workforce. Now we need to push the message that “Al Capone would have loved alcohol prohibition.”

    I love what Mayor Mitch Landrieu is doing for New Orleans and the Democratic Party.

    I just hope this means we can have a New Orleans jazz revival, as it was originally intended.

  3. Albuquerque, NM council just approved decrim. One member who voted against said there is no empirical evi. that marijuana decrim. reduces crime. She should look to New Orleans! Would share link, but on tv keyboard, yeah, still on that new computer issue, lol.

  4. Nice. Im a Louisiana resident (though nowhere near New Orleans) with two marijuana convictions. The first time I was 19 and had about a bowl’s worth, and went to jail over it. The second time was about 3 years later, I had a joint and only had court and a fine. Glad to see it slowly going away.

    1. Feaz,

      I’m not a Christian.

      I don’t believe in an afterlife. If there is one, I figure I’m going to hell. Seriously. (It’s a long story.)

      But you could call me a Jesus Hippie, since I kind of fell in love with Jesus, many years ago. (Not any kind of Church or anything, just Jesus.) It means nothing more than I say it does. Don’t corner me. It’s not a dogma.

      But, I do care about injustice. I don’t give a fuck if I am a heretic. All this is preface to the following:

      There is a beatitude which stirs my heart: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for right to prevail; for they shall be satisfied.”

      Drink deeply, my friend. You’ve earned it!

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