Louisiana Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Cassidy, Bill - (R - LA)

703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5824

Contact: www.cassidy.senate.gov/contact

 

Vitter, David - (R - LA)

516 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-4623

Contact: www.vitter.senate.gov/contact

Sen. Vitter is up for re-election in 2016

 

State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

Though the Legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1991, there's no mechanism in current law that allows for the legal dispensing of the drug. Doctors can legally prescribe it, patients can legally use it, but there is no middle man. Indeed, Louisiana lawmakers have defeating marijuana legislation left and right. In April 2014, a Senate committee quashed the best shot of setting up a medical marijuana industry in the state. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee killed a bill that would have set up the tightest law in the United States regulating the prescription, dispensing and use of marijuana for medical purposes. That same month, another Louisiana Senate Committee killed a bill that would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession. Current Louisiana state law penalizes first-time possession of any amount of marijuana up to 60 pounds with a $500 fine and six months in jail (a misdemeanor), a $2,500 fine and five years in jail for a second offense (a felony) and a third conviction can bring a $5,000 fine and a 20-year jail term (a felony). Many say the law is enforced unevenly, however, since law enforcement agents and prosecutors handpick which repeat offenders get charged with felonies.

Marijuana Policy Project on Louisiana:

Last update: July 1, 2015

ACLU study shows Louisiana’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates

Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail. Unfortunately, these laws disproportionately effect Louisiana’s African American community. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Louisiana are 3.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Legislature adjourns after improving marijuana policies

Louisiana’s 2015 legislative session saw the passage of two bills that move marijuana policies in the right direction. On June 29, 2015, Gov. Jindal signed into law HB 149, which reduces penalties for possession of marijuana, and SB 143, which attempts to create a compassionate medical marijuana program.

HB 149 reduces the maximum jail time and maximum fines that may be imposed for possession of quantities of cannabis less than 60 pounds. The maximum term of incarceration for first offense possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis is reduced from six months to 15 days. Meanwhile, SB 143 purports to create a medical marijuana program; however, it only permits physicians to “prescribe” marijuana. Unfortunately, federal law does not currently allow physicians to prescribe any Schedule I substance, which includes marijuana. This means that Louisianans will most likely continue to be without access or legal protections for medial cannabis. Furthermore, the law states that either or both of Louisiana State University and Southern University, jointly or separately, have the right of first refusal to be licensed as production facilities.

Poll shows Louisiana voters support reform

The people of Louisiana are ready to rid their state of the overly harsh penalties currently imposed for marijuana offenses. A February 2014 LSU State Survey found 79% of Louisianans support allowing medical marijuana. These results are more than 10 points greater than an August 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that found 65% support for medical marijuana. The PPP poll also found that 56% of likely voters favor citing individuals for simple marijuana possession over arresting them, and 53% think the state should change its law “to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, for legal use by adults age 21 and older.”

Louisiana Cannabis News

 

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