louisiana legislature

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

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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

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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

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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: Voters Could Decide On Marijuana Legalization Next Year

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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.

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