And costs the arresting agency a ton of money. I’m not sure how much a marijuana arrest costs in all municipalities, but many of the figures I’ve seen put a marijuana arrest for simple possession at between $1,500 and $2,000. Compare that to issuing a citation, which can cost as low as $20 from some statistics I’ve seen. More and more local governments are reforming their marijuana laws in such a way that minimizes the amount of people being arrested for simple marijuana possession.
The New Orleans City Council became the most recent local government to make such a move. The New Orleans City Council voted yesterday to reform it’s city marijuana law regarding personal possession. Per NOLA:
New Orleans police will have even more leeway to issue citations for simple marijuana possession after the City Council voted 7-0 Thursday (March 17) to enact new standards aimed at reducing the number of arrests for low-level drug crime.
Local law already allowed NOPD officers to write a ticket for first-offense possession, and they still have the option to use the stricter state law that calls for arrests. Council members Susan Guidry and Jason Williams backed the ordinance that allows police to issue summonses for third and subsequent simple possession charges.
“Our hope with this is that fewer people will be brought to jail and fewer people will have their lives disrupted with this charge,” Guidry said.
This move obviously doesn’t go far enough in that there will still be people getting arrested for marijuana possession, as it’s up to the officer. So there’s still room for selective enforcement, which is often a problem when it comes to marijuana possession and minorities. But this is still a step in the right direction. Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation, and any movement there, even at a city level, is significant. Fines for marijuana possession range between $40-100.