Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP's Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
On Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession in the City of New Orleans! Last week the City Council unanimously passed Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s measure, ordinance 31,148. Thanks to everyone who spoke out or turned out in support and to CommonSense NOLA for leading the charge.
Ordinance 31,148 allows law enforcement to issue a ticket — rather than arrest — for marijuana possession, and reduces penalties from possible jail time to a civil fine of $40 to $100 if the officer cites under local law instead of arresting under state law. The ordinance will go into effect on June 21 of this year. For more details, click here.
Also reminder that the Louisiana legislative session is now open and medical marijuana is on the agenda. If you are a Louisiana resident, please to let your representative and senator know that you wish to see a workable medical marijuana program in your state.
Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. CST, the New Orleans City Council will consider whether to pass a new bill that reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana. Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s bill calls for law enforcement to give a verbal warning instead of an arrest on a first offense marijuana possession charge. The council chamber meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, will take place at:
1300 Perdido Street, Second Floor West
New Orleans, LA 70112
In addition to turning up to show support at the hearing, let your council members know you support Councilwoman Guidry’s bill by sending them an email letting them know where you stand on this important issue.