NOLA pot ordinance pointless

Driftwood, Staff

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Our government is good at giving its citizens the run-around while simultaneously letting the American people believe it is working toward progress, and nothing proves this more than New Orleans’ recent marijuana ordinance.

Marijuana is illegal. Federal law makes this quite clear. And if federal law, which trumps both state and municipal (city) law, states that marijuana is illegal, why is it necessary for local governments to go any further than that?

But the city of New Orleans did go further, by rewriting this law in a process that began six years ago. The results are not clear-cut, and its ambiguities leave the door open for trouble to make its way in.

Eligibility tows the ambiguous line. Who will be ticketed, and who will be arrested? That’s the luck of the draw, the flip of the coin, the roll of the dice. True, a New Orleans Police Department officer has to receive supervisory approval in order to arrest a citizen, but what does that process even entail? Can the officer simply text or radio in his or her coworker to receive approval? Does it require transporting the offender to the supervisor’s location? Or does the supervisor come to the offender? Is there just one supervisor for the entire department?

Second, and perhaps the biggest issue with the ordinance, is the non-compliance of state police officers. The Louisiana State Police, who patrol throughout New Orleans with a particularly heavy patrol in the French Quarter, do not abide by the new ordinance. Again, this leaves the outcome of the offense to the luck of the draw: two citizens can commit the same offense, but the person caught by a state police officer will be penalized more. In the six years since NOPD officers have been allowed to issue tickets to first-time offenders, no one even bothered to address the counteracting state law.

So I ask again: what is the point? Why did it take six years to agree that subsequent offenders would be fined in increasing increments of $20? Moreover, why would offenders pay the fine when the ordinance explicitly states that an offender will not face consequences if the fine is not paid?

You’ve got to take the good when you get it, and the core of this ordinance is good for the people. But the process by which it was achieved is appalling, yet it is also one that the government would have you praise it for. The new marijuana ordinance is nothing but a shiny distraction over the rust-covered path that leads to the government.

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