The bill eliminates the possibility that being arrested for possession of small amounts of cannabis will result in prison time, which cannabis reform advocates typically demand.
By Andrew Ward
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed off on House Bill 652 to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession for personal use.
Possession of up to 14 grams will now be categorized as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Those caught violating the law face up to a $100 fine without jail time.
“It essentially provides for the officer to write a ticket with no jail time,” Shreveport Rep. Alan Seabaugh told the Daily Advertiser about the bill, signed on Tuesday.
Only possession was revised under the legislation. Laws against distribution and unlicensed cultivation remain in effect.
Governor Signs Off Despite Cannabis Concerns
In a Twitter statement, Gov. Edwards, who has stood out as one of the few remaining democratic governors leery of cannabis legalization, said he did not take the decision lightly. He stated that the bill passed with bipartisan support after “a robust discussion” regarding the effects of the ongoing drug war against cannabis.
Gov. Edwards released the following statement today, upon signing House Bill 652 by Representative Cedric Glover, which reduces the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. #lagov #lalege pic.twitter.com/HqjoBa0WZv
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) June 15, 2021
The governor pushed back on the notion that the bill decriminalized cannabis, noting that small fines remain. Still, the bill eliminates the possibility that being arrested for possession of small amounts of cannabis will result in prison time — a substantial step — which cannabis reform advocates typically demand.
Gov. Edwards has additional cannabis legislation anticipating his signature, with a medical bill allowing smokable flower awaiting his decision.