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On January 21st, Louisiana’s House Committee for Administration Of Criminal Justice will meet to discuss marijuana legalization in the Bayou State. A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) in August of 2013 shows that 65% of Louisiana residents support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and 64% of respondents also opposed current Louisiana law which allows life sentences for marijuana possession if the defendant has a prior felony record. Yes, it is possible here in Louisiana to kill someone while drunk driving and get out in just a couple of years, but then get a life sentence for selling a bag of marijuana. Here’s a couple other sample questions from the poll which shows that even while Louisiana is a very conservative state, not everyone here has lost their minds when it comes to the failed war on drugs – cannabis specifically.

Would you be more or less likely to vote for a
candidate for office if he or she voted to reduce
penalties for the possession of marijuana?
More likely……………………………………………….49%
Less likely……………………………………………….32%
Doesn’t make a difference…………………………13%
Not sure………………………………………………….6%

Nearly half of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported lesser penalties for possession. Why? Possibly because of how laid back Louisiana is when it comes to alcohol use, especially in the Catholic-dominated southern part of the state where it isn’t hard to find a drive-thru daiquiri stand and you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniels or a case of Bud Light in almost any gas station. Even a wide receiver for the Saints can get a DWI and bail out on a $1,150 bond, but marijuana? You can get 6 months for first offense and a $500 fine. A first offense DWI? 2 days to 6 months, but many offenders have the option of pleading guilty in exchange for 48 hours of community service. How about vehicular homicide while driving drunk? Only a 3 to 5 year minimum. So it would make sense that 53% of people would show support for legalized and regulated marijuana in Louisiana.
Two states — Colorado and Washington –
recently changed their laws to allow marijuana
to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol,
for legal use by adults age 21 and older. Would
you support or oppose changing Louisiana law
to regulate and tax marijuana, with stricter
regulations than for alcohol?

Support…………………………………………………..53%
Oppose…………………………………………………..37%
Not sure………………………………………………….10%

Last year, a bill to reduce the maximum penalty for marijuana possession squeaked through the House of Representatives and fell two votes short of the required two-thirds majority required to begin debate in the Senate. After seeing the potential tax revenue to be garnered by legalized pot in Colorado and the savings on reduced incarcerations ($2.2 million in 2014 estimated) just from reducing the penalties, perhaps this year we will see a more vigorous debate that moves us towards legalization. Louisiana currently has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world as well as the largest number of individuals (429) serving life without parole for non-violent crimes which include distribution or possession of marijuana. The real question is, which will prevail? Common sense and fiscal responsibility, or the $182 million dollar prison industry which currently has a chokehold on the state?

If you want to help change this, please click on the link below to find contact information for members of the House Committee for Administration Of Criminal Justice and let them know you support legalizing or even just decriminalizing marijuana in Louisiana. Don’t forget to mention the money that could be made off legalization – these are Louisiana politicians after all.

http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Cmtes/H_Cmte_CJaddresses.asp