SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A pair of Shreveport City Councilors are expected to introduce legislation Tuesday that if adopted would change how the local criminal justice system deals with marijuana possession.
According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, District C council member John Nickelson says he and District A councilwoman Tabatha H. Taylor will introduce an ordinance that would reduce the municipal penalty for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, THC, “or chemical derivatives thereof.”
Under current state law, first-offense possession of fourteen grams or less of marijuana is punishable by a fine of not more than $300, imprisonment in the parish jail for not more than fifteen days, or both.
“The legislation Councilwoman Taylor and I are sponsoring would create a municipal offense for possession of fourteen grams or less or marijuana; set a $50 fine as the only penalty for violation; and require Shreveport Police Department officers to issue a ticket rather than arresting a suspect for this relatively small amount of marijuana,” Nickleson said on his Facebook page. “This will remove the threat of arrest and jail time for defendants charged with the municipal offense.”
The proposed ordinance aims for final passage by March 23.
“Chronic marijuana abuse can cause serious problems and should not be taken lightly. But in the case of marijuana possession, the criminal justice system’s present “cure” is more harmful than the disease. A person struggling with drug addiction (and not engaging in other criminal behavior) needs help with addiction, not arrest or incarceration. This bipartisan legislation is an important step in that direction, and I hope you will encourage your City Council representatives to support it.”