Senate Committee to Hear House-Approved Marijuana Decriminalization Bill
A Senate judiciary committee will hear House-approved legislation Tuesday that would decriminalize possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. The bill by Shreveport Representative Cedric Glover cleared the House on a 68-25 vote two weeks ago.
Chairman Franklin Foil said he’s sympathetic to the legislation but wants to hear testimony from criminal justice authorities before making his decision.
“I’m very interested in what law enforcement and the prosecutors have to say on this bill and that will weigh heavily on what decision I make,” said Foil who added that while he’s not “there yet” when it comes to legalizing recreational use he does see merit in not locking people up on non-violent possession charges.
“The way we have been looking at justice reform we need to send fewer people to jail who are not violent and do not pose a threat to society.”
If signed into law those found with up to 14 grams of marijuana can be fined up to 100 dollars, but cannot be sentenced to jail time. Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans have already adopted similar local decriminalization laws.
This comes as the House approved a resolution that would create a study committee aimed at analyzing the impact of potentially legalizing recreational marijuana. The committee would be comprised of lawmakers, community leaders, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, DAs, and representatives from law enforcement. The resolution is a response to a recent legalization effort that failed to pass in the House amidst intense opposition from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.
Foil said attitudes towards marijuana are changing quickly and while it won’t be this year he expects legalization will ultimately happen.
“I would not be surprised if recreational marijuana use is legalized in Louisiana in the near future, I think it is probably coming,” said Foil.