Orleans council woman wants warnings issued for certain marijuana offenses

Orleans council woman wants warnings issued for certain marijuana offenses

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Criminals once put in jail for simple marijuana possession could get a slap on the wrist in Orleans Parish.

Council woman Susan Guidry wants NOPD officers to start issuing warnings instead of arresting certain first and second time simple marijuana offenders.

Guidry does not believe this is decriminalizing marijuana instead she said it would level the playing field for enforcement.

At a meeting Wednesday, Guidry will propose a change to the city's marijuana ordinances.

She believes the change would free up police, save money and make the application of marijuana laws more fair across ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Currently, New Orleans officers can use their discretion for anyone charged with simple possession first offense of marijuana to either make an arrest or issue a summons to appear in court.

NOPD officers are issuing summons for that first offense 70 percent of the time, according to Guidry.

Guidry would like officers to issue warnings for anyone caught with simple possession of marijuana the first two times and issue a summons or arrest on possible subsequent charges of simple possession.

"The taxpayer has to pay for it. If the person can't bail out, they stay in jail pretrial. If they can't pay the fine, they may wind up in jail longer," Guidry said. "We have a punishment of job loss, education loss and family loss. It's way beyond the severity of the crime."

Guidry is the chair of the council's Criminal Justice Committee.

She said African Americans account for 75 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests and 92 percent of all felony arrests.

Guidry believes this change would free up police for more violent crimes instead of hours booking "victimless, non-violent crimes".

A representative from NOPD will be at Wednesday's meeting.

The department would not go on record to say if it plans to support Guidry's proposal.

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