Edwards Signs Bill to End Jail Time for Small Amounts of Marijuana
The debate over recreational marijuana legalization and the jail time that is enforced on people who break laws that restrict it are often debated.
In the recent Louisiana Legislative Session, those debates continued to happen. Recreational marijuana will continue to stay illegal - at least for another year - but the jail time that is associated with SOME marijuana arrests will be eliminated.
Today, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill sponsored by Shreveport Representative Cedric Glover that will take away the possibility of jail time for people in the state caught with small amounts of recreational marijuana - up to 14 grams of marijuana.
“I have signed HB 652, which contrary to the narrative developed in the press and elsewhere, does not decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, 14 grams or less," said Edwards in a press release. "Instead, anyone convicted of this crime will now be subject to a maximum penalty of $100 instead of being exposed to parish prison time."
That misdemeanor fine and the removal of jail time - even for repeat offenses - won narrow, bipartisan support and is part of an effort to "no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions," as Governor Edwards put it.
"In addition to carefully reviewing the bill, I also believe deeply that the state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states, that can ruin lives and destroy families, as well as cost taxpayers greatly," said Edwards. "This is not a decision I took lightly...This measure passed Louisiana’s Legislature with bipartisan support following a robust discussion of the toll of over incarceration on our people and our state. Taking this action is another step forward for Louisiana’s criminal justice reform efforts.”
The new law is set to take effect on August 1st.
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