Louisiana: Governor Enacts Marijuana Sentencing Reform Measure

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation late yesterday significantly reducing criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 149, which took effect upon signing, amends the state’s toughest-in-the-nation repeat offender laws for marijuana possession offenses.

Under the previous law, second-time possession offenders faced up to five years of hard labor in prison. Third-time offenders faced up to 20 years hard labor in prison.

Under the revised law, two-time marijuana possession offenders face a maximum sentence of six-months in prison. Three-time offenders face a maximum sentence of two-years in prison. Those convicted of marijuana possession for a fourth time face up to eight years in prison.

First-time offenders found in the possession of 14 grams of cannabis or less now face a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail (reduced from six-months). House Bill 149 allows offenders to apply to have their record expunged if they aren’t convicted of a marijuana violation within two years of the first offense.

According to an analysis by the ACLU, Louisiana ranks #14 in the nation in per-capita marijuana possession arrests.

Gov. Jindal also signed separate legislation, SB 143, amending the state’s dormant Therapeutic Research Act. Specifically, the measure asks the state to adopt rules and regulations “relating to the dispensing of prescribed marijuana for therapeutic use” for patients with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, or who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy. However, because this language directly conflicts with federal regulations prohibiting doctors from ‘prescribing’ schedule I controlled substances, it remains to be seen whether any licensed Louisiana physicians will agree to participate in the state’s proposed program.

14 thoughts

  1. While this is better than nothing, I will not be setting foot in Louisiana anytime soon.

    I thought living in just a decriminalized state was bad enough, that place sounds like hell.
    Thankfully, my state is very lenient and has a very good chance of legalizing in 2016.

  2. Not as big a step as I’d hoped for Jindal, but given his reputation, it seems a big step for him. Still nothing short of full legalization/regulation for adults qualifies as justice.

  3. It amazes me that prison has been the “new” slavery in America since Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation.
    But over a joint?

  4. Too little, too late. I’ve already left for greener pastures. Have a nice day.

  5. Julian, what was the first slavery based on? Truthfully, it was nothing more than mountain of Bull Shit too. This is why American need to learn how to ‘just say no’ to these bullshitters. Both of the Republican’s and Democrat’s most popular candidates are indeed massive bullshit artists. Jeb! — Even that is bullshit, he thinks people will not realize George is his bother. Clinton says she and her daughter came under fire in Tuzla, Bosnia, just because she was tired and the first thing to pop into her head was, “I had better make up something.” Both of these goons are War Mongers, Corporate Stooges and Drug War Profiteers. Electing either one will hurt us and endanger the progress we’ve made.

  6. The most important part of this is that Jindal felt safe doing this at the beginning of a run through the Republican primary.

  7. The text of SB 143 Act 261 as signed does appear to read ‘prescribe.’ This despite an amendment suggested by a lay citizen patient which passed in House Committee (see below.) Not sure what’s up with that!
    Jindal would deserve a crumb of kudos beyond his ability to write his own name in cursive if he would have done anything more than that for a decade, being that he’s pro-life and all.
    Credits most especially to the people of Lafayette Parish who did the early and most important works which realized The Alison Neustrom Act and these other small improvements.

    HCASB143 2270 3851
    2015 Regular Session
    Amendments proposed by House Committee on Health and Welfare to Reengrossed Senate
    Bill No. 143 by Senator Mills
    2 On page 1, line 3, delete “prescribing” and insert in lieu thereof “recommending”

  8. Yes, it is a win, but a pathetic one.
    That said, any reform which limits jail time is better than none.

  9. I know in other states, this doesn’t seem much. But considering that this is backwater Louisiana, it’s a positive step forward. I despise Bobby Jindal, but his saying “yes” is to his credit, especially that back in 2003 he was dead set against medical marijuana reform. All that said, this is a means to an end, not the end in itself, which should be full adult use legalization.

  10. COMPARISON: “First-time offenders found in the possession of 14 grams [about 1/2 ounce] of cannabis or less”– enough for 560 single tokes in a flexdrawtube one-hitter– face up to 15 days in Louisiana jail, meanwhile in Oregon it’s now legal to possess one ounce anywhere, 8 ounces in the home.

    Drug note: 14 grams is the exact net weight of tobacco in a Pack of twenty 700-mg commercial nigotine $igarettes. What were they thinking?

  11. Mexweed, they are thinking in Cigarette terms, no doubt. Everyone, except for potheads, think of marijuana as a different kind of alcoholic tobacco.

    It is just a frame work because they are too lazy to think about marijuana as marijuana, they just lazily put tobacco and alcohol properties onto the legal definition of marijuana–I still don’t follow Year of Action’s intention that only calling marijuana smoke “marijuana” would fix anything. Switching out one form of Bullshit for a different kind of Bullshit doesn’t actually get us anywhere–Year of Action! Maybe we could simply stop pretending marijuana is tobacco/alcohol??? Maybe we could think about marijuana when discuss/talking about marijuana? I think that might be enough for sanity to come back… Calling it “Cannabis” does not help any because these idiots still think Cannabis is a different kind of tobacco/alcohol exactly the same issue as with the “marijuana” word.

  12. a step forward ? maybe , but what about all the young men and women in jail now for simple possession, 2,10 20 years? what chance do these folks have when they get out ? Our politicians would not let the people vote on this issue because of course they know what’s best , like having a BILLION dollar deficit and not looking at the $200 plus million in tax revenue legalization would bring in to help .

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