Last Update: April 22, 2015
2015 session convenes; sensible marijuana policy reform proposed
Lawmakers from across Louisiana have convened in Baton Rouge for the 2015 legislative session. Already, multiple bills have been filed to make long overdue changes to how the state treats marijuana consumers, including those who use marijuana for medical purposes.
Legislation has been introduced that seeks to create a compassionate medical marijuana program. There are also bills pending that propose reducing Louisiana’s extreme penalties for marijuana possession. Finally, a bill has also been introduced that would ask the voters if Louisiana should tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, although the result of that question would have no legal weight as it still requires the legislature to act.
If you are a Louisianan, you can help make 2015 the year Louisiana lawmakers rethink the state’s current draconian marijuana policies — which have landed some Louisianans in prison for more than a decade for small amounts of cannabis — by emailing your representatives in Baton Rouge to ask them to make needed marijuana policy reform.
Please make sure you're signed up for MPP's email alerts so we can call on you again to support sensible marijuana policy reforms in Louisiana.
Poll shows Louisiana voters support reform
The people of Louisiana are ready to rid their state of the overly harsh penalties currently imposed for marijuana offenses. A February 2014 LSU State Survey found 79% of Louisianans support allowing medical marijuana. These results are more than 10 points greater than an August 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that found 65% support for medical marijuana. The PPP poll also found that 56% of likely voters favor citing individuals for simple marijuana possession over arresting them, and 53% think the state should change its law “to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, for legal use by adults age 21 and older.”
ACLU study shows Louisiana's harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail. Unfortunately, these laws disproportionately effect Louisiana’s African American community. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Louisiana are 3.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Please take a moment to send a letter to your legislators asking them to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana to a civil fine or asking them to end marijuana prohibition entirely by legalizing marijuana and regulating it for adult use similarly to alcohol.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Louisiana, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.