Louisiana lawmakers consider marijuana reform

Louisiana lawmakers consider marijuana reform

Published on 3/17/14

MONROE, LA. (KNOE 8 News) - It's been a hot topic across the country and after two other states have legalized marijuana, reform is once again scheduled to be discussed in Baton Rouge.

Currently, there are seven bills on the table dealing with marijuana this legislative session.

Four bills would lessen the penalties for marijuana use and remove those convictions from the habitual offenders' law. One bill would change the drug from a Schedule I to a Schedule II. Two others would legalize marijuana for medical use.

But Senator Bob Kostelka said that's a slippery slope.

"It's hard to really control marijuana once you start legalizing it for any purpose. We've always had a law here that doctors can prescribe the ingredients of marijuana, but this law would now set up marijuana farms in each of the congressional districts," Kostelka said.

The state's black caucus supports lessening penalties for marijuana possession.

Representative Marcus Hunter said it's not their goal to legalize marijuana for any reason.

"We believe just like other parties and other persons believe that there should be fairness and equality in sentencing and guidelines as well. And there is no fairness and equality in sentencing relative to marijuana possession," Hunter said.

The issue gained more attention Thursday when a Monroe man was arrested for extortion.

Roy Green allegedly threatened a Louisiana representative's livelihood if the lawmaker did not support marijuana reform.

But whether penalties are reduced or prescriptions are handed out, it looks like the marijuana debate is here to stay.

Twenty states allow medical marijuana use. Colorado and Washington allow recreational use and Colorado cashed out with 1.4-million dollars in tax revenue for the first month marijuana was legal.

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