State troopers will ignore N.O. pot ordinance, enforce state law

State troopers will ignore N.O. pot ordinance, enforce state law

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - State troopers will not follow suit when it comes to New Orleans' newest ordinance for marijuana possession.

"Louisiana State Police is responsible for enforcing state law here across the state of Louisiana, and that's what we're going to continue to do," Trooper Melissa Matey said. "We have to remain consistent from New Orleans all the way to Shreveport."

On Wednesday, New Orleans started enforcing an ordinance that allows New Orleans police officers to give a citation for misdemeanor possession, which is two and a half pounds of marijuana or less.

But no matter how little pot troopers find in someone's possession - even in New Orleans - state law mandates that a trooper charge the person with the state charge. A trooper can issue a summons on the state charge in lieu of taking the person to jail depending on the amount of marijuana and other circumstances, Matey said.

"There are differences when it comes to laws from municipal ordinances versus state law, and again, Louisiana State Police will enforce state law that says that you cannot possess marijuana, which is a Schedule I substance here in the state of Louisiana," Matey said.

Troopers primarily patrol in the French Quarter, but they are also patrolling other areas of New Orleans and other events when needed.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry said she is disappointed by the State Police stance on the issue.

"This isn't Metairie. This is New Orleans," Guidry said. "Obviously, the lawmakers and decision-makers have made those decisions here, and I'm sure there are local laws that the State Police enforce in many different jurisdictions and many laws are local."

Guidry pushed hard for the ordinance's passage, which she believes is needed to help the poor. 
"It will help keep poor people out of jail that can't pay bond," she said. "You can't control people's lives, but the fact of the matter is, the people who wind up in jail for possession of marijuana are only those who can't pay the small bond amount to get out."

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