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Blazed on the Bayou: Will Louisiana Legalize?

Louisiana Marijuana Legalization
By Rusty Clark via Cannabis Now

Legal

Blazed on the Bayou: Will Louisiana Legalize?

We rarely look into the deep south when having conversations about recreational cannabis, but the dialog is heating up in Louisiana. Several bills are in the works ranging from reducing puritanical possession sentences to full legalization and money is the motivation behind it.

Den’A Tiberius is the proprietor behind the Herb Import Company based in New Orleans. Tiberius has kept a keen eye on the enormous things cannabis has done for Colorado since legalization. “They are literally making millions and millions of dollars in tax revenue,” Tiberius told KLFY. “They are creating industry. People are moving there.”

Louisiana is crippled with an $850 million dollar deficit. Colorado’s reported $900 million in revenue in 2015 would fit snugly into Louisiana’s enormous debt.

Louisiana spends $46.4 million per year enforcing cannabis laws when you add up police, judicial, and correctional fees, but is debt an ethical reason for passing recreational legislation?

“I think they’re looking at it strictly as a profit-driven, tax-based incentive,” explained Kevin Caldwell, executive director of Commonsense NOLA. Caldwell’s nonpartisan organization has been fighting for cannabis in Louisiana. “I think it is more likely next session, once the politicians get the real blowback from the budget cuts. Once the state sees cuts to things like social services and universities… I think that will reawaken some of the populism from our past, which, in this case, is a good thing.”

Louisiana could use a smoke break. The state enforces some of the harshest cannabis laws in the nation. If you get caught growing, there’s a minimum sentence of five years in prison for the first offense.

According to the ACLU, data indicates that Blacks in Louisiana are three times as likely to be arrested for cannabis despite using it at similar rates. More troubling, is the fact that 91 percent of prisoners serving lifetime sentences are African American. Caldwell dubbed Louisiana “America’s last plantation.” The state of Louisiana slightly decriminalized cannabis possession with the passage of  HB 149 on June 29 last year. Before then, getting caught with possession for cannabis for a third time warranted a 20-year sentence. HB 149 drops the maximum penalty for possession of cannabis from 20 years to eight years. The bill is already helping Louisiana recover from an estimated $17 million in savings.

A survey at Louisiana State University indicated that 67 percent of Louisiana residents say they believe those convicted for small amounts of cannabis should not serve jail time. Representative Dalton Honore has now authored a bill, HB 117, that would legalize cannabis across the board.

Law enforcement is outraged. “Have we lost any sense of altruism of what’s going on in the streets? Come on!” Sheriff Newell Normand petitioned. “Where is the moral compass? I don’t see it… We’re going to legalize and decriminalize possession, but guess what? The transaction and the sale is still illegal. The profit motive is still there. The havoc that it will wreak on our streets will be insurmountable.”

Law enforcement and several other organizations don’t want to send the wrong message to kids.

Louisiana could become the next state to legalize, however, do we want a cannabis policy that resembles anything like ResponsibleOhio‘s failed Issue 3 that was focused on making money? Fixing debt is just one of the innumerable ways cannabis can help the state of Louisiana and the conversation is far from over.

Does cannabis legalization stand a chance in Louisiana? Tell us what you think.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Karen Gill

    April 25, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I’m a life long Louisiana resident. I am 51 years old, have three grown children, none of whom smoke or do any drugs. I’ve been a responsible citizen and I believe its time for our state to legalize. The stance of the Sheriff’s Association is an old argument, that marijuana is a gateway drug, just doesn’t hold true from my experience and observation. So what can we do?

  2. Kendall Newby

    March 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    As someone who moved here a year and a half ago and family court gave my child abusing spouse temporary custody because I had failed a drug test due to marijuana that actually helps my medical condition. We have had no court dates and no visitation set. I have given clean drug tests for everything including all my prescription medications which I stopped taking, but the judge is acting like I was out smoking crack. I failed the drug test in May of last year. I didn’t do it around my kids and I was never under the influence around them. So to me this state agrees with child abuse but not with something that can medically help someone. I would love for it to be legal. Not to do it but just so I can get my kids back.

  3. Melissa

    March 15, 2016 at 6:04 am

    I live in Louisiana. I think it should be legal. The amount of deaths from prescription drugs is staggering. Our prison system is overloaded with people for simple possession. This should be a wake up call for Louisiana. It is a win win situation. With all our debt problems our last Governor left this state in.. Legalization is the answer. I personally would love to be able to legally obtain THC for medical treatment than the medication that is forced on us by the medical and pharmaceutical companies.

  4. Karll Coleman

    March 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA… FOR PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF WHOSE SUFFERING FROM MUSCLE ACHES, SEIZURES, DEPRESSION & ETC…PLUS IT WILL SAVE OUR ECONOMY

  5. Jacob Sigler

    March 13, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Equal rights for all American citizens regardless of the state. No one should suffer or be incarcerated just because they can’t afford to move where marijuana is legal.

  6. Dianne

    March 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    When are they going to decide who gets the grow contact? Any word any body?

  7. Robert Johnson

    March 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Legalization is a no Brainer. It is obviously the safer choice. Alcohol is a killer drug,yes it is a drug, destroys families EVERY day. Most people wouldn’t drink if weed were legal. With all that being said I vote….HE’LL TO THE YESSS! !!!! I’m stocking up on zig zags.

  8. Joe voisin

    March 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I had cancer 14 years ago and now I’m suffering from long term side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. I smoke daily to help with my pain that I can’t describe in a short comment. My pain management dr is making me quit because of the federal law, so he can prescribe higher dose of pain meds but is scared todo so because of theDEA. I would get off the pain meds if I could grow it myself and take the hash oil instead. Prohibition is stupid. I don’t drink alcohol though I used to when I worked. I can’t work bc of the meds I have to take. If it were legal I wouldn’t have to pay $300 to see my Dr. And I could start my own business. Legalize it it’s a natural medicine from God. Fuck Harry Anslinger and his bullshit lies from the 1930’s and give us our freedom to choose back.

  9. Felipe Marco

    March 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    They don’t wanna legalize cannabis because it’s a black mans money maker and Louisiana is the only state to stubborn to see the good in legalizing cannabis ., more money to spend on other things instead of court costs and parol officers let’s help the community and small businesss with more business that comes from this little plant that causes a great hunger

  10. Rick

    March 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Newell Normand excepted $200,000 for him to raise his hand and vote yes for Marijuana Policy Reform in the Louisiana Senate, but when he gets in front of the cameras he demonize it. Remember Newell Normand you voted yes and excepted the money.

  11. Elbert Perryman

    March 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    If anyone can give me good reason and I mean sound judgement with all the intelligence we have available to us at this day in age, even though we have limited researched on this plant because of laws preventing anyone to go in that direction and we still know so much about it already, but like I said if anyone or any group can explain to me why we should use this plant, then I will quit, I will stop using it. Just like when I was explained where pain pills are made of, I quit taking them. Now if you come at me with stupidity then just know I have dealt with, researched and fully understand what this plant is, how it grows and what it is able to do for the body. Like I said IF;

  12. Elbert Perryman

    March 6, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    The law enforcement much like the big pharma companies are scared of change. They can’t see the Forrest for the trees. I wonder if they ever thought about they may even be helpful by pushing this awesome plant to the top and I’m not talking about top of schedules either. This plant can do so much and if all the lies involved with weed propaganda would not have been spread around to begin with, we wouldn’t have this problem with change. But the time is here and it’s time to make some money. The drug cartels have been enjoying revenue from the USA so let’s take that back. Why should they have it ? Why isn’t our farmers benefiting from the hemp industry ? Bio fuel ? Bio plastics ? Feed, cure for cancer maybe even the fountain of youth, it makes me feel better. Everybody else is benefiting from us not legalizing so what should stop us?

  13. Mark Bley

    March 5, 2016 at 9:16 am

    As a resident of the state of Louisiana for 44 years, they need to do something to get some honest income in this state. For example, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is over 16,000 acres. What a great place to grow a marijuana crop. The sad part is there is a sheriffs Association and the District Attorneys Association of that is so against this because all these little tiny one horse towns in this state make the revenue on locking people up in parish detention centers. I say legalize it.

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