On June 14, 2021, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Rep. Cedric Glover’s decriminalization bill — HB 652 — into law. It took effect on August 1, 2021. Here’s a summary of what the law does — and does not — do.
Louisiana’s cannabis “decriminalization” law:
Reduces the penalty for possessing up to 14 grams (about 0.49 oz.) of cannabis to a fine of up to $100.
For those who prove indigence or inability to pay, the court must use its discretion for alternatives, such as community service or installment payments.
Provides that possession of up to 14 grams will be enforced by a summons (like a traffic ticket) not an arrest.
The law does not:
reduce penalties for possessing over 14 grams;
reduce penalties for possession with intent to distribute (even of less than 14 grams), such as cannabis in multiple containers or baggies; or
reduce penalties for sales of any amount.
Those penalties remain harsh.
This law will save thousands of Louisianans from the trauma and disruption of an arrest and incarceration for cannabis. It will also reduce the amount of law enforcement resources wasted on simple possession of cannabis.