District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Thursday that he would like the New Orleans City Council to consider transferring simple possession of marijuana cases from Criminal District Court to Municipal Court.


He said the change could remove one third of the 2,100 cases pending at criminal court and let prosecutors there concentrate on more serious crimes. It also could reduce the prison population because police could issue municipal citations or affidavits for marijuana possession instead of arresting offenders and taking them to Central Lockup to be booked, he said.


Cannizzaro said he was not "advocating the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in any way whatsoever" and said that the maximum penalty for possession could remain the same in Municipal Court: a $500 fine and six months in jail.


Cannizzaro, who will appear before a council committee next week to discuss his plan further, said he also wants to discuss it with the Police Department.