In A Flash

Louisiana law that eliminates prison time for modest marijuana possession takes effect Sunday

By: - July 31, 2021 12:08 pm

BERLIN – AUGUST 07: A man smokes licenced medicinal marijuana prior to participating in the annual Hemp Parade, or “Hanfparade”, in support of the legalization of marijuana in Germany on August 7, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The consumption of cannabis in Germany is legal, though all other aspects, including growing, importing or selling it, are not. However, since the introduction of a new law in 2009, the sale and possession of marijuana for licenced medicinal use is legal. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A new law that eliminates jail and prison time for the possession of modest amounts of marijuana will take effect Sunday. 

The law will impose a fine of up to $100 on a person caught with 14 grams or fewer of marijuana in lieu of incarceration — even for repeat offenses. 

The current penalties for marijuana possession are more severe. A person caught with 14 grams of marijuana can face a $300 fine and imprisonment for 15 days for the first offense. Penalties escalate significantly for repeat offenders — up to a maximum eight years of prison time for people arrested four times.

New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport had already voted to decriminalize marijuana, but this new law expands the decriminalization policy to all of Louisiana. 

Twenty-seven states and Washington, D.C., have decriminalized marijuana possession already, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rep. Cedric Glover, a Black Democrat from Shreveport, drafted the law that Gov. John Bel Edwards, also a Democrat, eventually signed.  

Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, who once worked for the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, voted for the proposal. Republican Senate President Page Cortez, of Lafayette, voted against it. 

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.