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Legalization of Marijuana May Be On the Horizon in Louisiana
HB243 and SB107 both deal with the decriminalization of marijuana in Louisiana
Two bills pre-filed in the Louisiana Legislature seem to suggest that the legalization of marijuana is on the horizon in Louisiana.
In the Louisiana State House, HB 243 filed by Representative Candace Newell (D-New Orleans) would remove the criminal penalties associated with possession, distribution, or dispensing of marijuana. In the Louisiana State Senate, SB 107 filed by Senator Geral Boudreaux (D-Lafayette) would allow the state to remove marijuana from the controlled substances schedule.
The legalization of marijuana has become a major issue in the state, with both candidates in the 2nd Congressional District Senate race supporting full legalization. Earlier this month, a poll conducted by JMC Analytics found that 67 percent of Louisianans support full legalization, on par with national support for legalization, which is now at 68 percent.
“We are glad to see a large poll done by a respected firm in Louisiana publish the results that showed strong bipartisan support for serious cannabis reform,” said Kevin Caldwell, Founder of CommonsenseNOLA. “We certainly hope to see the will of the people enacted into legislation this session. This being a fiscal session should not deter our elected officials from bringing one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation to our state.”
Unfortunately, even if passed neither of these bills is enough to fully decriminalize or legalize marijuana on their own. HB 243 would only take effect if the Louisiana Legislature implements a system to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana - something Caldwell and other pro-cannabis groups are hopeful will happen this session. SB 107 would take effect should the DEA remove marijuana from its schedule of controlled substances - which could happen should it be legalized at the federal level.
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act which would pave the way to do just that. With Democrats in control of the House and Senate, it’s possible that even if Louisiana doesn’t decriminalize marijuana at the state level, it may become legal at the federal level.
“It is certainly obvious that the citizens of our state want change and opportunity,” Caldwell said. “The powers of the Sheriffs and DAs can’t continue to hold opportunities hostage. We are seeing bipartisan support for ending prohibition across our country, and hope we will see it in Louisiana this session.”
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