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Shreveport eyes no jail time for some marijuana offenses
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The city of Shreveport is weighing whether to get rid of jail time for some small marijuana related offenses.
Local media report that the bipartisan proposal was put forward by two city council members — Republican John Nickelson and Democrat Tabatha Taylor — during a Tuesday council meeting. The proposal was drafted in cooperation with Mayor Adrian Perkins.
Under the proposal, people 18 and older who are found in possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana would receive a fine of $50 or given community service. Under the current Louisiana law, such offenders could get up to 15 days in jail and up to $300 in fines. The fines and the jail time go up from there for subsequent offenses under the current law — up to eight years in prison for the 4th offense.
Similar proposals have been passed in New Orleans and Baton Rouge as cities and towns around the country rethink how vigorously to prosecute recreational marijuana and whether it’s a good use of law enforcement resources. Some states have legalized marijuana use altogether.
Nickelson, who is a lawyer, also referred to racial disparities in how marijuana offenses are sometimes prosecuted. Speaking to the Shreveport Times, he relayed a story about defending an African-American man who was prosecuted for marijuana possession because he was in a house where police found a joint. The council member compared the incident to another he’d encountered where two white young men were found smoking marijuana and were let off with a stern speech and orders to write essays about the dangers of marijuana.
Speaking of the prosecution and judge he said: “They weren’t motivated by any animus against my client but the system, nevertheless, delivered very different justice to a young African-American male for the same offense as the two white boys that committed the same crime,” Nickelson told the newspaper.
The marijuana proposal will come up during the council’s March 23 meeting.
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