In A Flash

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

By: - July 31, 2021 12:08 pm
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Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, is seeking to modify the state’s sweeping marijuana decriminalization law that was enacted last year. House Bill 700 would impose harsher penalties on children and teenagers caught with marijuana than adults. (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 NOLA.com | 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.

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