It’s a period of celebration for the cannabis community in Lousiana!!! Get your bong and weed grinder ready, y’all!
Over a month ago, the Louisiana Governor, John Bell Edwards, signed the bill that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana for personal use. From August 1, residents of Louisiana seen with up to 14 grams of marijuana will only be fined $100 but without prison time.
This is massive progress within the marijuana sector in Louisiana, as possession of such small amounts of cannabis is officially no longer grouped as a felony but is now merely a misdemeanor.
This move eliminates the fear of incarceration from residents who may possess small amounts of marijuana. The governor’s action also reinforces the projections by cannabis experts that soon enough, marijuana possession will be decriminalized at the Federal level.
Much-needed progress for the Louisiana Marijuana market
Governor Edwards insists that he doesn’t take this new bill “Lightly” and expressed his commitment to liberating Louisianans from incarceration for such minor issues. He believes that the legal strongholds against cannabis in the state had ruined lives and destroyed families while costing taxpayers a lot.
The bill is also a massive step towards reforming the criminal justice system in Louisiana. The decriminalization bill is also in line with what is used in public policy sectors, making it a formal proclamation. The previous punishment for possessing marijuana was more severe. People caught with cannabis could be fined $300 and up to eight years in prison if they are arrested up to four times.
The legislative arm in Louisiana approved the bill, and it was a bipartisan move, with many experts agreeing that Louisiana’s marijuana market has finally made impressive progress. The bipartisanship displayed in the legislative house represents a united effort that will see Louisiana take center stage in leading other states to adopt progressive marijuana reforms.
Intricate details of the bill
It should be noted that the bill also expands the variety of medical cannabis available to users, and this plays a major role in driving increased revenue for the state. With the bill, people over the age of 21 can give a person two and a half ounces of cannabis bi-weekly.
It should also be noted that the raw and smokable medical cannabis doesn’t necessarily conform to the medical standards of other marijuana forms in other states. The legislative arm of Louisiana’s government rejected the motion to fully legalize cannabis, tax, and control of the sale of all cannabis-infused drugs.
Louisiana got its first medical cannabis license in 2018, and since then, pharmacies in the state can prescribe medical cannabis to patients. This bill broadens the access of patients to cannabis based medication they need to maintain their health.
Safe places to buy medical cannabis in Louisiana
After a patient visits a licensed physician and receives a prescription for medical cannabis, a purchase can be made. The Louisianan Pharmaceutical Board has adopted rules which allow some medical cannabis in Louisiana. The forms of cannabis allowed include;
Patients can also get up to one month’s supply of medical cannabis products from licensed and approved pharmacies. At the same time, the recommended doses and all purchased quantities are recorded in the Louisianan Medical Cannabis Tracking platform.
The path forward for the marijuana community in Louisiana
Although the idea to fully legalize marijuana, its sale and taxes were presented by Republican Richard Nelson, it was largely opposed. Sometimes the journey towards complete legalization for a state is never a one-off experience as multiple bills will be passed and some rejected.
Carly Wolf, the NORML state policies manager attributed the passage of the current bill as “Great progress” towards putting an end to racial and discriminatory policies that brand good Louisianans as criminals for petty offenses.
He also agrees with experts who have repeatedly said that the Louisianan law enforcement agencies should pay attention to fighting real crimes instead of going after law-abiding residents.
Going forward, there will be more legislative efforts towards cannabis reforms in Louisiana, and one of the much anticipated bills is the one focused on repealing the ban on smoking medical marijuana flowers. It should be noted that several studies are currently being conducted to determine the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana usage in the state.
While there’s still much to be desired in Louisiana, it’s important to stress the fact that the state is making progress with its marijuana reforms. If reforms are done right, they will pave the way for legalization, and from all indications Louisiana is going about its reforms the right way which means legalization may be imminent.
Experts are raising awareness in Louisiana.
The decriminalization bill was sponsored by State Rep. Cedric Glover (A Democrat), who teamed up with an advocacy unit known as Louisiana Progress to create an awareness campaign. This campaign will enlighten the public on the new reforms using FAQ pamphlets on social media platforms.
Glover represents the Shreveport district in Louisiana and insists that he knew the exact time when the reform should take another turn. He describes the moment when he saw two city council reps (one conservative and one progressive) who came together to support the decriminalization goal.
He also believes that criminalizing marijuana is “Harmful” to Louisiana residents in many ways, especially to marginalized Black and Brown communities. Low-income and young people have also been affected hence the reason he hopes that this new law will enable some relief and offer a sense of freedom to such disadvantaged communities.
Although the governor has maintained that he wouldn’t sign a bill that fully legalizes recreational cannabis, this decriminalization bill ignites hope in the hearts of many people that he may eventually legalize it.
In June, Governor Edwards signed a bill that enables medical marijuana to be legally available to patients who need them. So, in addition to announcing that cannabis possession is no longer a criminal offense, the state is expanding its marijuana program.
Louisiana, like many other states in America, is beginning to harness the potentials of its marijuana market. Hopefully in the nearest future, there will be more cannabis-friendly legislation that allows Louisianans to maximize all the benefits marijuana has to offer.
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