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Marijuana Laws

Let’s Talk (Again) about Marijuana Laws in Louisiana

There’s been a lot in the news about how Super Bowl XLVIII will be played on an open field in a blizzard and that this is the first time that the two number one seeds are playing each other in a Super Bowl since 2009 (when the Saints last won the Super Bowl.) But I’ve read about something that is more political: The two teams that are playing hail from the two states that have legalized marijuana, the Denver Broncos from Colorado and the Seattle Seahawks from Washington State (Insert Super “bowl” reference here). On January 1, Colorado became the first state in the United States to implement its marijuana laws since pre-prohibition times and this country is starting to learn how widespread the popularity of marijuana is and what it’s financial opportunities could be. Surprisingly, Louisiana is also considering the legalization of pot.

Lawmakers in Louisiana Debate Marijuana

On Tuesday, January 21, citizens showed up in Baton Rouge to discuss why they believed medical marijuana should be legalized in Louisiana. In order to understand what this means to the rest of us, you should consider what are the current drug laws in Louisiana and the punishments for marijuana crimes in New Orleans. You can read more about them throughout my site and in this blog article. In Tuesday’s meeting, the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice expected an informational meeting only and they certainly did not expect Representative Dalton Honore (D) of Baton Rouge to broach the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana in Louisiana. To clarify, this was not a voting meeting, nor were any bills written about the legalization of medical marijuana in Louisiana. It was a four hour meeting that provided citizens, law enforcement officials, and politicians to weigh in on whether marijuana should be legalized for either recreational or medicinal purposes. Despite their efforts, Representative Austin Badon (D) from New Orleans indicated that the chance of legalizing marijuana altogether would not happen soon given the current political climate.

Marijuana as an Alternative Medicine in Louisiana

Even though Colorado and Washington have passed laws allowing recreational use of marijuana (and 18 other states and Washington, DC permit medical marijuana), it is not actually recognized as lawful by federal government and federal law enforcement agencies. The meeting on Tuesday was designed to be a forum to allow people from all walks of life to express their opinion to the officials who will make the ultimate decision about whether to legalize any use of marijuana. For example, a mother from Metairie whose daughter suffers from seizures daily made opined, “If Louisiana does not catch up with Colorado, California, New Jersey, or the many other states changing their medical marijuana laws, you will start to see your families torn apart and then leave altogether. I know people who are in the process of moving to Colorado. I believe that Louisiana citizens, especially their children, should have access to the same healing, natural remedies, as children in other states.”

Who is Against Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

There are citizens, law enforcement, and public officials who are against the legalization of medical marijuana as a prescription to the terminally ill or severely ill. Some talk about the bad effects of marijuana, such as disorders, addiction, and the possibility of leading to harder drugs such as cocaine and other addictive drugs. In other words, is marijuana a gateway drug? I personally feel that in the very near future marijuana will be legal in Louisiana (and the rest of the United States), but subject to the same restrictions as alcohol, wine, and beer, and, it will be HEAVILY taxed.

Marijuana Crime Penalties in Jefferson Parish

Much of Tuesday’s meeting also touched on reducing the punishments for marijuana offense. While a 1st Offense Possession of Marijuana conviction is a misdemeanor, a second or multiple possession of marijuana conviction can sometimes lead to long terms in jail and hefty fines, changing a person’s course of life. The legislative session starts on March 10 and new Bills have been filed that can reduce criminal penalties for second and subsequent convictions of possession of marijuana. If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for a marijuana crime for the first, second, third, etc times, then please feel free to give an experienced New Orleans criminal defense lawyer a call at (504) 264-9492 or contact me by e-mail.

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