LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell says if someone is stopped with an ounce of marijuana or less, and its the only charge or the most serious charge they are facing, they will not face prosecution.
O'Connell says his office will still receive citations for marijuana possession from the Louisville Metro Police Department but says he will use the resources of his office more efficiently. The policy change means the county attorney's office will be able to put more attention on crimes involving guns, domestic violence, DUI and the opioid crisis. O'Connell says, "Simple marijuana use is not a danger to others."
Mayor Greg Fischer's communications director, Jean Porter said, "We respect the decision of the County Attorney's Office amid an evolving conversation around marijuana here and across the U.S, and support Chief Conrad's efforts to adjust LMPD's practices in response to the new policy. The Mayor understands that this is an issue that relates to a range of others, including equity, and encourages the discussion surrounding marijuana policy to continue here in Louisville and at the state and federal level."
During O'Connell's announcement, he cited an LMPD study that said African-Americans were four times more likely than whites to be charged with marijuana possession. "For me to truly be an administer of justice," O'Connell said, "I cannot sit idly by when communities of color are treated differently in the justice system."
33 states have currently legalized marijuana in some form. According to O'Connell, Kentucky was ahead of many states in how it has been dealing with low-level marijuana possession. In 2011, Kentucky reduced its punishment of low-level marijuana possession. People weren't to be arrested unless there were other mitigating circumstances; instead, they were cited for the offense.