NEW ORLEANS- Strong comments about Marijuana and a New Orleans law lessening the penalties for possession are reigniting a debate about the law's effectiveness.
It's been a year since the city council passed the ordinance. A new study is in the works to see if it's working.
"We will do a one year study. We should have that information coming in from NOPD and municipal court within the next month," Councilmember Susan Guidry said.
Guidry spearheaded the ordinance. City council members passed it unanimously last March.
Right now, first-time pot offenders in New Orleans would have to pay a $40 fine. Statewide for each offense the amount increases. First timers would have to pay up to a $300 fine and 15 days in jail.
"It keeps police from having to write reports and drag a person into jail for these minor offenses when police could be out working on violent crimes," Guidry said.
There's one very loud voice against the law. According to our partners at The New Orleans Advocate, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro called the lower penalty for marijuana possession "stupid," saying it would attract more drug dealers and users to the city.
"I think in this case the DA is once again a total outlier on criminal justice issues. We're not decriminalizing, we're just keeping the people from having jail time for it," Guidry said.
After hearing the comments by Cannizzaro, WWL-TV Crime Analyst Jeff Asher looked at the number of simple possession citations from January to March of this year. In March alone, Asher says there were 140 incidents of simple pot possession.
"It started really a couple of months ago. Picked Up steam in January and February. And March was, there were more offenses and incidents of marijuana than there's been in any month going back to when we had data which was 2011," Asher said.
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