Louisiana Bills to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol Receive Committee Assignments

Two pieces of legislation that would work together to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older in Louisiana have received committee assignments roughly two months after they were filed.

Filed by State Representative Candace Newell, House Bill 24 would legalize the possession and distribution of marijuana “contingent upon legislative enactment of a statutory regulatory system and establishment of a sales tax”. House Bill 17 would work in conjunction with HB 24 by allowing marijuana stores. The Department of Agriculture would be directed to issue 10 licenses for the legal cultivation and processing of marijuana, and 40 licenses for marijuana retail outlets.

Newell says the bills would treat marijuana “Just like alcohol.” She says “You have a license to sell alcohol. If you don’t have a license you can’t sell it. The same will be with recreational marijuana.”

House Bill 24 has been assigned to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, and House Bill 17 has been assigned to the Committee on Judiciary. Both were filed in early February, and will need to clear two committees before they can receive votes by the full House of Representatives.

Under current Louisiana law the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, but with no possibility of jail time for a first offense. However, possession of over 14 grams is punishable by up to six months in jail for a first and second offense, up to two years in prison for a third offense and up to eight years for a fourth offense.

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