Smoking a joint in New Orleans could be treated like a minor traffic infraction if an ordinance drawn up by City Councilwoman Susan Guidry becomes law.Not to come down too hard on Guidry’s idea (it's good to push the envelope as much as one can) but until the state legislature moves for full decriminalization, you're going to end up with some confusing scenarios. This kind of officer discretion, for example, looks like an equal protection or racial discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.
The proposed change builds on Guidry’s previous effort to have police de-emphasize arrests for possession of marijuana. An ordinance passed in 2010 allowed officers to issue summonses rather than arrest those with small amounts of the drug.
Officers would still be able to make arrests under the more punitive state law instead of the municipal code, something Guidry suggested could be used in cases where a known drug dealer is caught with only a small amount of marijuana on him. State law allows for a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail for a first offense when an offender has more than 14 grams of marijuana and up to eight years in prison for a fourth offense.Yeah, see, that is.. not ideal. If you're gonna get into these weeds, you might as well go ahead and legalize it altogether.
If the ordinance is passed by the council and signed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, officers would be able to choose whether to use the city ordinance or the state law when deciding how to deal with suspects found in possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Because nothing the city does can override state law, officers would always be able to choose which one to use in any given case. Guidry said having the two sets of laws would allow officers to continue to make arrests if they feel the situation warrants it.