Another Bill Lessening Marijuana Penalties Dies In Committee
The hot button bill by New Orleans Sen. JP Morrell that would lessen marijuana penalties in Louisiana is no more.
Senate Bill 323, which proposed that anyone charged with pot possession could get no more than 6 months in jail and a $100 fine on every offense, was deferred in committee. Morrell argued that Louisiana needs to join neighboring states on this issue.
“What makes our citizens so dangerous and despicable that in Texas, which is viewed as the toughest state on crime, they treat all possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor?” Morrell questioned.
Under present law, a second conviction of marijuana possession is a felony, and a third charge could land someone in jail for 20 years.
"What makes our citizens so dangerous and despicable that in Texas, which is viewed as the toughest state on crime, they treat all possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor?"
Charles Scott, president of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, said his organization strongly opposed the bill.
Scott said he thinks lowering the marijuana penalties in Louisiana would send a message that we think pot is safe drug.
“Some of this battle needs to take place at the FDA,” said Scott. “They have analyzed and still found that it is a Schedule I. That is there is a high likelihood of addiction.”
Scott says one in nine adults who smoke marijuana become addicted, and when they start as a teen that stat goes to one in six.
He says district attorneys go to great lengths to avoid charging young, casual users with felonies.
“We’re mindful of the yolk that would put on them as a felon,” Scott said. “And it is not abused.”
The bill is essentially dead for the session.
A similar bill by New Orleans Rep. Austin Badon also failed last month after strict opposition from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. It’s the second year Badon has put forth the measure.