Louisiana considers decriminalizing Marijuana possession and distribution

Louisiana considers decriminalizing Marijuana possession and distribution

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana is considering a new bill, H.B. 24, decriminalizing marijuana possession and distribution.

The bill proposes to remove criminal penalties associated with the possession, distribution, or dispensing of marijuana. However, the bill would only come into effect if the legislature provided a statutory regulatory system for the legal sale and distribution of marijuana and established a sales tax on those sales.

The bill, proposed by Representative Newell, seeks to amend and reenact R.S. 40:966(B)(2)(introductory paragraph) and (D)(1) and to repeal R.S. 40:964(Schedule I)(C)(38) and 966(C)(2) and (F), relative to marijuana. If passed, the bill would remove penalties for the possession of marijuana for personal use and would also allow individuals to distribute marijuana without fear of criminal charges.

The bill is designed to address issues related to the criminalization of marijuana and the disproportionate impact of drug laws on communities of color. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, despite similar use rates. The passage of this bill would be a significant step towards ending the systemic racism inherent in the criminal justice system.

The bill would also have an economic impact, as the legal sale and distribution of marijuana could generate significant tax revenue for the state. According to the Tax Foundation, states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use have seen significant tax revenue growth. In Colorado, for example, tax revenue from marijuana sales has exceeded $1 billion since the drug was legalized in 2012.

Despite the potential benefits of legalizing marijuana, the bill faces opposition from some lawmakers who believe it would lead to increased drug use and could adversely affect public health. However, supporters of the bill argue that legalizing marijuana could decrease drug use by removing the criminal element associated with drug sales and allowing for better market regulation.

The bill also includes provisions to protect employers and schools, stating that employers would still be able to enforce drug-free workplace policies and schools would still be able to enforce drug-free zones. Additionally, the bill would not apply to the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

If passed, Louisiana would join a growing number of states that have decriminalized marijuana possession and distribution. As of 2021, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana.

Overall, the proposed bill is a significant step toward ending the criminalization of marijuana and addressing systemic racism in the criminal justice system. The potential economic benefits of legalizing marijuana could also provide much-needed revenue for the state. While the bill still faces opposition, it represents a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle to reform drug laws and promote social justice.

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Region: Louisiana

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