Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Begins With State Lawmaker Awareness Campaign

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Begins With State Awareness Campaign

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Gov. John Bell Edwards (D) signed legislation in June however it was not until July 31st, 2021 that cannabis decriminalization took effect in Louisiana. Together advocates and legislators are working to ensure that locals understand what they can and can refrain from doing without going to jail under the new law. The Louisiana Governor stressed that it was “not a decision I took lightly,” but recognized criminalization has actually had substantial consequences for households and taxpayers.

Under the new Louisiana marijuana decriminalization law, ownership of as much as 14 grams of cannabis is now punishable by a $100 fine, without the hazard of jail time. The guv has actually pushed back versus the definition of the policy as “decriminalization,” however that’s exactly how advocates define policies that get rid of the danger of incarceration for low-level possession.

The sponsor of the costs, Rep. Cedric Glover (D), is partnering with advocacy group Louisiana Progress for an awareness project to educate individuals about the brand-new reform. The group has actually launched a Frequently Asked Question on the law and will be using social networks and other informational products to inform the public while also engaging in outreach to law enforcement and lawmakers.

“When I saw two city council members in my hometown of Shreveport—one conservative and one progressive—come together to decriminalize personal-use marijuana possession there, I knew it was time to take this reform to the state level,” Representative Glover said. “Criminalizing marijuana possession is harmful to the people of Louisiana in so many ways, but it’s been particularly harmful for Black and Brown communities, lower-income folks, and young people. My fervent hope is that this new law will finally bring some relief and a feeling of freedom to those communities.”

Louisiana Progress states lawmakers shouldn’t stop at simple decriminalization and needs to enact more comprehensive cannabis legalization in an approaching session while nationwide advocates are cheering the brand-new law’s taking effect. Guv Edwards also signed a costs in June to let patients in the state’s medical cannabis program legally smoke whole-plant cannabis flower.

“Marijuana decriminalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform in Louisiana, especially for the traditionally marginalized communities that have been disproportionately criminalized under prohibition,” the group’s new FAQ says. “But we need to keep fighting to end marijuana prohibition altogether. Doing so could be hugely beneficial, including bringing dozens of new small businesses and hundreds or even thousands of new jobs to Louisiana.”

The legislation marks a significant expansion of the state’s minimal medical marijuana program. As it stands, patients have the ability to vaporize marijuana preparations via a “metered-dose inhaler,” but they can not access whole-plant flower and smoking is not permitted.

While Governor Edwards has explained his determination to approve more modest reforms, he predicted that he would not be the one to sign adult-use legalization into law prior to he leaves office in early 2024– even though he does expect the policy change to take place in his state at some point.

“This is a much-needed policy change for Louisiana,” NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said in a press release. “The enactment of this legislation is great progress toward ending the racially discriminatory policy of branding otherwise law-abiding Louisianans as criminals for minor marijuana possession offenses when law enforcement should instead be focusing on fighting legitimate crime.”

An effort in the legislature to pass a costs to legislate recreational cannabis stalled in your house this session after the chamber failed to pass a complementary procedure on taxing adult-use cannabis. Edwards also said in May that he thinks the reform “is going to take place in Louisiana ultimately.”

Last year, the Louisiana legislature substantially expanded the state’s medical marijuana program by passing a bill that allows doctors to recommend marijuana to patients for any debilitating condition that they deem in shape instead of from the limited list of maladies that’s utilized under existing law. Edwards signed the step in June 2020 and it took effect weeks later.

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