City leadership in New Orleans got creative to push forward cannabis reform and decriminalization, as the city police struggle to gain back trust. On August 5, the New Orleans City Council passed several agenda items to end penalties for small amounts of cannabis possession and pardon about 10,000 convictions and pending cases.
According to a news release, the council was able to remove penalties for simple possession of marijuana in New Orleans by exercising its power to pardon cases now and retrospectively. The ordinances that were passed include Ordinance 33,328.
City officials said the effort is aimed to gain community trust with police—which they could really use right now. Another goal is to allow New Orleans police to focus on reducing violent crime instead of wasting their time with petty marijuana charges. While the New Orleans City Council doesn’t have the authority to legalize adult-use marijuana, it has the ability to decriminalize it through an ordinance changing police policy.
Smoking cannabis will remain prohibited in public spaces, but instead of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) issuing a drug summons, it will just be a ticket in violation of the Smoke-Free Air Act—which is not a drug charge.
“These new policies will help NOPD