Is New Orleans becoming the new Amsterdam? Not quite, but the New Orleans City Council did vote unanimously last week to designate marijuana possession and prostitution as municipal offenses, allowing police more flexibility in their choice of retribution. This means that if you're caught with a joint or selling your body, police no longer will have to arrest and jail you, they can just issue you a summons.
The new ordinances are supported by judges, prosecutors, and police as a means of reducing arrests, with the goal of saving the city money, while freeing up officers to focus on apprehending violent criminals.
I think I speak for most when I say: better late than never. It's as if the endlessly repeated refrain of "Why don't you go after some real criminals?" had finally sunk in. Some may think the Council's actions will make The Big Easy a little more sleazy, but, as Billy Joel once sang, I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.