Cannabis Poll Recap: Decrim Vs. De-Emphasis

Covington Weekly ran an unofficial poll with regard to cannabis decriminalization in the City of Covington with overwhelmingly favorable response. Regardless of the response, the City's stance is that local ordinances cannot supersede State Law. In an attempt to understand how the city of New Orleans was able to achieve the latitude they have with regard to cannabis possession, Covington Weekly reached out to New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who was more than happy to share a few minutes of her time to discuss the matter. Susan explained that while the state law exists, there are also certain exemptions amended. The exemptions have allowed New Orleans to craft ordinances that allow for greater discretion on the part of the officer with regard to a particular substance in question. In effect, the New Orleans City Council created an environment where there is a de-emphasis on cannabis possession, which differs from actual decriminalization. On that point, the City of Covington has the great ability to do exactly the same thing, and the documents used by the New Orleans City Council are provided online along with this write-up. (N.O. Ordinance, LA State Law, Exemptions) During the course of the conversation, Guidry agreed with the assertion that the actions taken in New Orleans are part of broader judicial reforms that are originating from the state level. Louisiana is officially taking steps to change the stigma of having the highest incarceration rate, per capita, of anywhere in the world, and a de-emphasis on victimless crime plays a significant part in the changes that are taking place. Covington Weekly acknowledges Covington City Council Members Rick Smith and Patrick McMath, who were helpful in initiating dialogue, and Councilman Smith reports from Chief Lentz on the official CPD stance, being that first-time simple possession of cannabis is a misdemeanor and is treated as such. Chief Lentz added that, "not only do we treat it as a misdemeanor, you will receive a summons much like a traffic ticket and not booked into jail. (Unless there are other charges associated with the incident)". Covington Weekly thanks our local officials for their pro-activity and willingness to address this issue realistically, with the hope that the conversation will continue. Timothy Achan Gates email: covweekly@gmail.com