On Thursday, the New Orleans City Council approved a package of three ordinances to move the city as close as it can legally get to legalizing cannabis possession.
Beginning on September 15, the ordinances — sponsored by Council President Helena Morena — will pardon about 10,000 cannabis possession convictions and pending charges. New Orleans had previously reduced the penalty for cannabis possession to a fine-only offense.
With this new policy, anyone who receives a summons under the law will have it immediately forgiven, with no action needed from the court or the ticketed individual.
Smoking cannabis in public will be a ticketable offense under the Smoke-Free Air Act.
As Council President Moreno explained, “These new policies will help NOPD build community trust and use saved manpower hours to address major issues like shootings, murders, and the overall prevention of violence in our city. We must begin to rethink the historical practices that have over-incarcerated, over-fined, and stigmatized our communities for decades. The time to end the criminalization of cannabis possession is now.”
Congratulations to our allies at CommonSense NOLA, including Kevin Caldwell; Council President Morena; and everyone else who worked so hard to enact these measures!