New Orleans Police: Rats Eating Drugs in Evidence Room, “They’re All High.”

March 13, 2024

At a New Orleans City Council hearing on March 11 about the sorry state of the city’s police headquarters—which faces issues with plumbing, mold and infestations, among other problems—Police Department Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick said that rodents are now munching on drugs in the department’s evidence room—and ostensibly getting high.

“The rats are eating our marijuana,” Kirkpatrick told the council’s Criminal Justice Committee. “They’re all high.”

Kirkpatrick’s mention of stoned rats, first reported by NOLA.com, was among a laundry list of housekeeping items she flagged for city leaders. “It’s not just at police headquarters,” she said. “It is all the districts. The uncleanliness is off the charts.”

While it wasn’t clear from Kirkpatrick’s comments what kind of cannabis products the rats are reportedly eating, it’s unlikely that unprocessed marijuana flower would get them high. While research has indicated that rats respond to marijuana smoke and vapor much like humans do, raw marijuana contains hardly any active THC. Instead, it contains THC-A, which must undergo a process known as decarboxylation to become psychoactive.

Other common cannabis products do include active THC, however—including edibles, tinctures and some concentrates—and could theoretically get rats high. It’s not likely stoned rats are any more dangerous than sober ones, though; research suggests THC makes rodents more sluggish and could reduce stress in female rats.

 

 

In footage of the hearing published by WWLTV, Kirkpatrick also mentions rat droppings on workers’ desks.

“When we say we value our employees,” she said, “you can’t say that and at the same time allow people to work in conditions that are not acceptable.”

Morale among police is already low, Kirkpatrick added, and “this work environment does nothing to boost that morale.”

Officials are working to rent space in another building to relocate the headquarters, which they estimate will be cheaper than the roughly $30 million price tag to fix the current building.

Marijuana remains prohibited for adults in Louisiana, with small amounts punishable by a $100 fine. Medical marijuana is legal, however, and has been sold in dispensaries since 2019.

In 2023, state lawmakers passed a marijuana expungements bill that then-Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed into law in June. The change made it so that by petitioning the courts, someone’s first conviction for possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis as a first can be wiped after 90 days from the time of the conviction.

At the time, polling from Louisiana State University found that seven in 10 Louisianans support legalizing adult-use cannabis. When the survey was administered a decade earlier, in 2013, only 42 percent of Louisiana residents said they supported the reform.

Despite the findings, adult-use legalization continues to stall in the Louisiana legislature. The governor did sign a cannabis decriminalization bill into law in 2021—making it so possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana is punishable by a $100 fine—but broader reform hasn’t made it across the finish line.

That said, the governor previously said that he does think that Louisiana will inevitably legalize cannabis for adult use at some point.

 


 

Photograph via State of Arkansas

This story was originally published by Marijuana Moment, which tracks the politics and policy of cannabis and drugs. Follow Marijuana Moment on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for its newsletter.

Ben Adlin

Ben is a writer and editor covering cannabis since 2011, including as a senior news editor for Leafly. He is currently senior editor at Marijuana Moment. He lives in Seattle.

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