marjorie esman

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Louisiana: New Directions New Orleans Brings Public Health Approach To Drug Policy


One-Day Conference Brings Elected Officials Together with Leading Drug Policy and Criminal Justice Experts to Chart a Health-Based Approach to Drug Policy

Louisiana Leads Nation in Incarceration Rates; Prison Population Has Doubled in Last 20 Years, With Staggering Racial Disparities

An unprecedented collection of drug policy stakeholders – including judges, elected officials, public health workers, law enforcement, and community advocates – will come together to chart a new course for Louisiana’s drug policies at New Directions New Orleans on Thursday, April 2 from 9 am-5 pm at Dillard University.

The one-day conference will provide Louisianans with the opportunity to engage many of the leading minds on drug policy and criminal justice reform from across the country and around the world, who will discuss strategies for moving beyond Drug War policies and toward a health-centered approach to drug use.

“Louisiana continues to strive to become a more population health focused state, but one of the outstanding issues we face are antiquated drug and criminal justice policies,” said Joe Kimbrell, CEO, Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI). “This collaborative conference will be a strong starting point for these extraordinary partners to begin outlining what new policies and best practices we can utilize to educate our policymakers and create a safer, healthier Louisiana.”

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


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 Advances To Soften Marijuana Penalties

(Graphic: Possession Can Get You 20 Years For Third Offense Under Current Louisiana Law

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After debating for for more than an hour on Wednesday, a Louisiana House committee advanced a bill that would soften the state's penalties for marijuana possession.

The sticking point in House Bill 103, reports Michelle Millhollow of The Advocate, was how to address habitual offenders and other already convicted marijuana offenders.

Current Louisiana law requires a third or subsequent marijuana possession conviction to be punished by up to 20 years in prison. The felony conviction can also be used to enhance the prison sentence when offenders have at least two other felony convictions.

Louisiana prosecutors sometimes use marijuana possession charges to send offenders to prison for life under the state's Three Strikes habitual offender law.

HB 103 sponsor Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) wants to allow those in jail for marijuana possession to be able to ask the court to reconsider their sentences. He also wants to stop prosecutors from sending marijuana possession offenders to prison for life as habitual offenders.

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