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Shreveport council members pass marijuana decriminalization proposal

SHREVEPORT, La. - Shreveport City Council members met on Tuesday, March 23, to make their final vote on the marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal was passed during the meeting, with only two council members voting against it.

During a virtual town hall held on Monday, March 22, Shreveport District A Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor and District C Councilman John Nickelson answered questions and broke down details about their proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana within city limits.

Both council members said they have received a lot of support for the proposal thus far.

“I did send [Caddo District Attorney James Stewart] this particular legislation to see if there were any objections as to what we were doing, and I received none,” Taylor said.

The proposal states that people age 18 or older in possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana will be fined $50 or tasked with community service.

“I don’t believe people should be threatened with arrest or incarceration for possessing small quantities of marijuana,” Nickelson said.

The council members said they hope this creates a ripple effect leading to changes at the state and federal levels.

“We’re able to pass this law because we have authority under state law to criminalize any misdemeanor offense,” Nickelson explained. “We cannot make a felony under state law a misdemeanor. But because marijuana is a misdemeanor offense, we can make it an offense under the city code and pose penalties that we think are appropriate.”

Therefore, the city does not have the authority to change the situations of people already serving jail time.

However, this does not allow or encourage people to use marijuana in public.

“In laymen’s terms, this is not a free-for-all,” Taylor pointed out.

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