Criminalizing marijuana possession has been particularly harmful to Black and Brown communities, lower-income folks, and young people in the state.
Just over a month following Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards signing off on a bill to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession for personal use, the measure took effect.
As of Sunday, August 1, Louisianians caught possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis will face up to a $100 fine, but without jail time, Marijuana Moment reported.
Under House Bill 652, possession of smaller cannabis amounts is now classified as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
And while the measure removes the threat of incarceration for low-level possession, the governor has pushed back on the notion that it has decriminalized cannabis.
State Rep. Cedric Glover (D), who sponsored the decriminalization bill, has teamed up with advocacy group Louisiana Progress to work on an awareness campaign to educate and inform the public about the new reform via FAQ pamphlets they released. They are also using social media.
“When I saw two city council members in my hometown of Shreveport—one conservative and one progressive—come together to decriminalize personal-use marijuana possession there, I knew it was time to take this reform to the state level,” said Glover who represents the Shreveport area. “Criminalizing marijuana possession is harmful to the people of Louisiana in so many ways, but it’s been particularly harmful to Black and Brown communities, lower-income folks, and young people. My fervent hope is that this new law will finally bring some relief and a feeling of freedom to those communities.”
The governor has said in the past that he would not likely sign a bill to legalize recreational marijuana even though that reform “is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”
A Bill To Legalize Smokable Medical Marijuana
In June, Edwards signed another bill, enabling medical cannabis patients to legally smoke whole-plant marijuana flower.
The measure significantly expanded the state’s medical marijuana program, which previously only allowed patients to vaporize cannabis via a “metered-dose inhaler.”