bobby jindal

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Louisiana: Sentencing Reprieve Requested For Man Given 13 Years For 2 Joints

BeNobleFreeNoble[StopTheDrugWar.org]

The Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday formally requested Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to grant Bernard Noble a gubernatorial reprieve and release him from prison, where he has served more than four years behind bars having been sentenced to a term of 13.3 years of hard labor without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes.

Pursuant to Article IV, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution, the Governor has the absolute power to issue reprieves of persons convicted of crimes against the state. Drug Policy Alliance has written Governor Jindal asking him to exercise his power of office by staying Noble’s unjust sentence and setting him free.

Legislation signed into law by Governor Jindal earlier this year would make Noble a free man today had it been the law at the time of his offense. Because the new law is not retroactive in its application, a gubernatorial reprieve is required for Noble’s release. Noble has been a model prisoner during his incarceration.

Back in March, Gov. Jindal denied a clemency request from Noble; the reason given was that Noble hadn't yet served 10 years in prison.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

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New Law an Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday signed legislation to reform the state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The law is expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's a relief to see that smart policymakers are starting to recognize this political reality.”

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Louisiana: Governor Denies Clemency To Man Serving 13 Years For 2 Joints

BeNobleFreeNoble[StopTheDrugWar.org]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently denied a clemency request from Bernard Noble, a man serving 13 years for possessing two joints.

The reason behind the denial was the Noble had not yet served 10 years in prison, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.

Noble's sentence is a prime example of the harsh nature of the marijuana laws in many parts of the country, according to Tony Papa at AlterNet.

"As someone who was sentenced to life in prison for a first time non-violent drug crime I know how important second chances are," Papa said. "In 1997 after serving 12 years I was granted executive clemency by New York Governor George Pataki."

"But in the case of Bernard Noble it seems that Louisiana's Governor Jindal has chosen not to show the compassion that our President has shown and instead ignores the injustice of Noble's case while he rots away in prison for 13 years for the possession of two joints," Papa said.

Under Louisiana law, possession of up to 60 pounds of marijuana is punishable by six months in jail on a first offense, up to five years in prison for a second offense, and up to 20 years in prison for a third offense. Third-time offenders are not eligible for probation.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Expected To Sign Law Reducing Marijuana Penalties

LouisianaMapMarijuanaLeaf

New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Would Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The Louisiana Legislature on Monday voted to reform its state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. If signed into law, it’s expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana; Bill Headed To House

FredMillsLouisianaSenate[EmilyLane-TimesPicayune]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Louisiana Senate on Monday approved legislation which would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. Senate Bill 143, which spells out how the state's medical marijuana industry would work, was approved on a 22-13 vote.

If the bill is approved by the Louisiana House, patients with a doctor's authorization could obtain cannabis in non-smokable form at one of 10 dispensaries across the state, reports Emily Lane at the Times-Picayune. The bill passed on Monday approves one growing site.

SB 143, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills (R-New Iberia), would restrict the use of "CBD only" medicinal cannabis in non-smokable forms to patients with glaucoma, spastric quadriplegia and for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

The Louisiana Legislature legalized medical marijuana in 1978 and then again in 1991, but neither bill allowed for legal dispensing of the herb; the Department of Health and Hospitals was supposed to write rules for dispensing it nearly a quarter century ago, but never did.

Three state agencies would have rule-making authority under Mills' bill: the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners would set rules about doctors' authorizations; the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy would set rules about dispensaries; and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture would set rules for the single grow site.

Louisiana: Voters Could Decide On Marijuana Legalization Next Year

LouisianaCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed putting marijuana legalization on the Presidential election ballot next year for a statewide vote.

Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has filed a bill, HB 117, to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis and its derivatives on the Louisiana ballot November 8, 2016, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune. Voters would be deciding not just the Presidential race, but also Congressional seats that day.

In a Louisiana State University survey last year, 79 percent of Louisianans indicated support for some form of marijuana legalization. If Honore's initiative got on the ballot and passed, people 21 and older would be able to possess and buy cannabis without criminal charges.

"If I can get it to the people, it will pass with flying colors," Honore said.

According to Honore, criminal charges for marijuana have already ruined too many lives in Louisiana. As of June 2013, 1,372 Louisianans were serving prison sentences for simple cannabis possession. The average marijuana sentence in Louisiana is 8.4 years; more than 78 percent of these offenders are African American.

Louisiana: Rally In New Orleans To Call For Clemency For Man Serving 13 Years For Marijuana Possession

BernardNoble-13YearsFor2.8Grams

Criminal justice stakeholders, New Orleans city Council members, sentencing reform advocates, community activists, concerned citizens, friends and family will gather on Saturday, March 7, to rally support for clemency for Bernard Noble, currently serving 13.3 years for 2.8 grams for marijuana.

Noble, a 48-year old father of seven, was arrested while riding his bike when officers discovered 2.8 grams of marijuana, the equivalent of two to three marijuana cigarettes. Characterizing Noble as “exceptional,” two Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judges departed from the mandatory minimal sentence stating “Mr. Noble’s inevitable incarceration will be a greater punishment for his children than for himself,” and Noble’s “particular circumstance is the rare exceptional situation and does not represent the type of individual contemplated by the legislature when assigning sentences.”

Using simple possession convictions from 1991 and 2003, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office charged Noble under the habitual offender law and sought the mandatory minimum sentence despite the trail judges’ disapproval and disagreement with the length of punishment. Trial judges twice departed from sentencing Noble to the state requested mandatory minimum of 13 years and four months and sentenced him to 5 years.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Says Medical Marijuana OK If Tightly Controlled

LouisianaGovernorBobbyJindal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said on Wednesday that he supports making medical marijuana available in Louisiana, as long as it is tightly controlled.

"I continue to be opposed to the legalization of marijuana," Jindal said during an event at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, reports the Associated Press. "When it comes to medical marijuana ... if there is a legitimate medical need, I'd certainly be open to making it available under very strict supervision for patients that would benefit from that."

Jindal said that to be acceptable to him, a proposal would have to put marijuana use under a doctor's care and that the program would have to be closely monitored to prevent abuse.

Medical marijuana advocates were happy that Jindal said he had an open mind on the issue.

"That's huge," said Marjorie Esman, executive director for the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. While Louisiana has a 1991 law on the books allowing medical marijuana, Esman said the law is unworkable, making it impossible for patients to actually get cannabis.

The 1991 law calls for patients with glaucoma, chemotherapy and spastic quadriplegia to receive marijuana for therapeutic use. The bill depended on Louisiana's secretary of health and hospitals devising rules and regulations by January 1, 1992; apparently those rules were never written.

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Goes Before Full Senate

LouisianaMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession in Louisiana passed a legislative hurdle on Tuesday. House Bill 103 was approved in a Senate judicial committee and sent to the floor of the full Senate. If approved there, the bill would go to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), would lessen the jail time and fines imposed on people convicted of simple marijuana possession, reports Lauren McGaughy of The New Orleans Times Picayune.

Badon said the bill would "keep families together, to keep people [from] going on the unemployment rolls," speaking before the Senate Judiciary C Committee on Tuesday. According to Badon, keeping people charged with marijuana possession out of jail would save Louisiana taxpayers $2.2 million in incarceration costs; the bill's fiscal note backs up his assertion.

The lowered penalties would not apply to those charged with intent to distribute or to those in possession of synthetic products like K2 or Spice.

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