LA House Bills 117 and 149 + LA Senate Bill 241

About a week before the Louisiana Legislature convened, state Rep. Dalton Honore trekked to Denver for field research related to legislation he’s pushing in Louisiana. The journey brought him just a few blocks from the Colorado State Capitol, to a marijuana dispensary.

The 72-year-old is a former sheriffs deputy who has “never had a marijuana cigarette in my life.” Moreover, he said, he’s never been in the company people smoking it. But Honore said it is time stop locking people up for using the drug and start treating it more like alcohol by focusing on education and treatment.

Honore’s legislation, House Bill 117, proposes to put a measure on the 2016 presidential ballot asking residents to vote on marijuana legalization. He chose that date because it falls after re-election for most of his colleagues in the Legislature and because there’s likely to be higher voter turnout.

[State Rep. Austin] Badon’s [D-New Orleans] legislation, House Bill 149, would drop the maximum sentence for second-offense marijuana possession from five years in prison to two years. It would also drop the maximum sentence for third-offense possession from 20 years to five. Subsequent convictions could allow for a maximum sentence up to eight years, but the habitual offender law could not apply to marijuana possession. 

[State Sen. J.P.] Morrell’s [D-New Orleans] legislation, Senate Bill 241, carves out a new section of the law that deals strictly with possession of an ounce or less of marijuana or synthetic marijuana — all the offenses would be considered misdemeanors.

The primary goal of the legislation, Morrell said is to prevent people from earning “the scarlet letter of felony drug possession” when they’re caught with an ounce or less. Felony drug charges, he said, can impact offenders’ employment eligibility for the rest of their lives.

Marijuana in Louisiana: 1 state lawmaker pushing to get legalization on the ballot while others fight for less jail time. The Times Picayune|, 4/27/15. Links to text of bills, not the original article links.

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A mad black woman in New Orleans.
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