DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA? - The Louisiana House will debate whether to decriminalize recreational marijuana use by adults. Lawmakers on the House criminal justice committee voted 7-5 Tuesday to send the proposal by Republican Richard Nelson of Mandeville to the House floor for debate. Nelson said that 70 years of prohibiting marijuana hasn’t worked to slow its use and cited a statewide poll that shows 2/3rds of those who responded favored legalization.
"Right now we send hundreds of millions of dollars to drug dealers and cartels," Nelson explained. "To me that's unconscionable for something that 67% of the population support."
House Bill-524 would allow people 21 years and older in Louisiana to buy and have marijuana for personal use and would set up the legal framework for growing and selling cannabis products outside of the state’s current medical marijuana program. Opponents to Nelson’s bill included organizations representing sheriffs departments and district attorneys who cited increased teen suicides and drug cartel infiltration into growing operations in other states that loosened cannabis laws.
Two other Republicans joined Nelson and Democrats to support the measure, helping it get out of committee, Louisiana’s House of Representatives will now debate the bill.