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Louisiana: Fishermen Find Brick of Marijuana On Beach


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Capt. Theophile Bourgeois and his clients on Friday discovered a brick of cannabis while walking along an island beach in the Chandeleur chain off the Louisiana coast.

"It was half in the sand, right up on then beach," Bourgeois said, reports Todd Masson at The Times-Picayune. "My clients were like, 'What do you think it is?' I said, 'I'd bet my left nut what that is.' It was dark; I knew it wasn't cocaine. I said, 'That's weed.'"

They used to be called "square groupers" -- the stray bales of marijuana that occasionally washed up on the Gulf Coast, by-products of a thriving black market that brought weed into the U.S. via the Caribbean.

The anglers cut open the brick to check, and Capt. Bourgeois' suspicions were confirmed. "It was solid seeds and stems," he said. "It stunk. It was skunk weed."

The cannabis was very compressed, according to Bourgeois, and he estimated the weight of the brick as between 15 and 20 pounds. It appeared to have been lost at sea for awhile. "It was old and waterlogged," Bourgeois said.

"It was on the bay side, which meant it made its way through current and came around," he said. "It looked pretty damned old."

Louisiana: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana; Bill Headed To House


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: Residents' Tolerant Views On Marijuana Not Reflected By Harsh State Laws


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana residents have a much more relaxed and tolerant approach toward marijuana than is reflected by their state's harsh laws, according to a statewide survey conducted by Louisiana State University this winter.

The university asked about three different marijuana polices, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune.

First of all, the survey found that a majority of Louisianans oppose legal marijuana for personal use. Fifty-two percent of state residents still oppose legalizing cannabis for recreational use, but the gap between those who don't want to legalize and those who support it -- at 45 percent -- is shrinking.

In 2013, 56 percent said they opposed legalization, and 42 percent said they supported it, a gap of 14 points. Now, that gap has shrunk to just a seven-point difference.

Young adults ages 18-29 in Louisiana support legal marijuana, with 68 percent supporting and 32 percent opposed.

One state lawmaker has filed legislation to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis on the Louisiana ballot on November 8, 2016. Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) said voters should get to decide whether pot becomes legal.

Secondly, the survey found that most Louisiana residents support medical marijuana. Sixty percent support medicinal pot, but for some reason that number has shrunk since last year, when 79 percent said they supported it.

Louisiana: Citizens Tell Lawmakers 'We Want Medical Marijuana'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana residents, tired of being left out of the wave of change sweeping across the U.S. and the globe, came to Baton Rouge en masse on Tuesday to tell state lawmakers why they believe marijuana should be legalized for medical or recreational use. The citizens weren't able to get many legislators to endorse the cause; Louisiana still allows repeat offenders to get life imprisonment for simple cannabis possession.

Tuesday's informational meeting of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice was convened at the request of state Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) to discuss the feasibility of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, reports Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times Picayune.

For nearly four hours, members of the public passionately advocated legalization, while law enforcement officials opposed the move and politicians equivocated. By the end of the hearing, Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) said Louisiana lawmakers probably wouldn't support legalization.

"I'm not sure if the Legislature is ready for any kind of legalization," Badon said. He is once again sponsoring a bill to reduce the penalties for those convicted on repeated charges of simple marijuana possession. Louisiana has become infamous worldwide for the extreme harshness of its cannabis possession penalties, including life imprisonment for multiple convictions.

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Dies; Falls Short By Two Votes


You Can Still Get 20 Years For Simple Possession of Marijuana in Louisiana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession died on the Louisiana Senate floor on Thursday after lawmakers tried three times to get the votes necessary to begin debate.

Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), who tried twice on Wednesday and once more on Thursday to get the 26 votes needed, was heard to say "I'm done. That's it," as he walked away from the podium on Thursday, reports Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times Picayune. The final effort fell short by just two votes.

House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), needed a two-thirds vote of state senators to even be brought up for debate, since it came up after the deadline for normal passage of bills in this year's legislative session.

Opponents claimed the bill would send "the wrong message that it's OK to smoke marijuana in Louisiana." Lawmakers reportedly chuckled and rolled their eyes as Morrell took to the podium on Thursday to rally votes for the bill. Families of those incarcerated for 20 years or more for marijuana possession -- including a few prisoners who got life sentences for pot under the state's habitual offender law -- were less amused.

"I heard the groaning," Morrell said. "I hear the inhaling and exhaling. I think it would be appropriate to at least attempt to have debate on this bill."

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