Today, Louisiana’s state lawmakers convene in Baton Rouge for their 2020 legislative session. Already more than a dozen bills are pending to improve the state’s cannabis policies.
Proposals have been introduced to regulate marijuana for adults’ use, to allow local legalization, to decriminalize simple possession, and to improve the state’s medical marijuana program in various ways — including by allowing whole plant cannabis and expanding qualifying conditions.
Here’s a snapshot at some of the bills that have been introduced:
- Rep. Edmond Jordan’s HB 626 would set up a system of legal, regulated cannabis sales to adults 21 and older along with permits for personal cultivation. (Unfortunately, it does not appear to remove criminal penalties.)
- Rep. Ted James’ HB 546 would put a state constitutional amendment on Louisiana’s November 2020 ballot to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older.
- Rep. Cedric Glover's HB 346 would put a state constitutional amendment on the November 2020 ballot to allow localities to legalize marijuana.
- Rep. C. Denise Marcelle’s HB 49 would reduce cannabis possession penalties, including by decriminalizing first-offense possession of up to 14 grams. The current penalty includes up to 15 days in jail.
- Rep. Ted James’ HB 385 would allow whole plant/flower medical cannabis.
- Rep. Ted James’ HB 386 would allow physicians to recommend cannabis for any condition that is debilitating to the individual patient
- Rep. Jeremy LaCombe’s HB 455 would allow people receiving hospice or palliative care to qualify for medical cannabis.
- Rep. Rodney Lyons’ HB 330 would add chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia as a qualifying condition.
- Rep. Joe Marino’s HB 158 would allow Alzheimer's, ALS, and a few other neurodegenerative diseases to qualify for medical cannabis.
- Sen. Gerald Boudreaux's SB 267 would remove the sunset on the medical cannabis program.
After voicing your support for marijuana policy reform, please spread the word so that others can join the chorus for humane and sensible marijuana laws!
On Wednesday, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed Sen. Fred Mills’ SB 271 in a 62-31 vote, bringing your state one step closer to a workable medical marijuana program. Now the bill returns to the Senate for a concurrence before moving on to Gov. John Bel Edwards — who is supportive — for his signature. You can read a summary of the bill here.
However, SB 271 alone will not end the flaws in Louisiana’s current medical marijuana law, which is why Sen. Mills has also introduced SB 180. This bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House. Should both bills pass, Louisiana becomes the first state in the Deep South to adopt a workable medical marijuana program!
If you are a Louisiana resident, please click here to find out how your lawmakers voted and ask them to show support for a compassionate program. (Once you type in your zip code, the correct email will automatically load based on how your legislators voted.)
The end of the legislative session is drawing near, and we only have a few more weeks to seek reform from lawmakers in Baton Rouge.
This morning, two MPP-designed billboards were launched in Baton Rouge and Shreveport, featuring mothers and their young children who face intractable epilepsy. The billboards read: “Medical marijuana would help my child. Will our legislators?” and urge viewers to ask their representatives to support medical marijuana legislation.
The full Louisiana House could vote on SB 271 — which would fix a fatal flaw in the state’s existing medical marijuana bill — as soon as tomorrow. Please, call or email your representative before they cast their vote.
The sheriffs' association is lobbying vigorously against the bill, and representatives need to hear an outpouring of support from constituents calling on them to do the right thing. SB 271 has already passed the Senate — after initially falling short in a vote — and Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he will sign it.
If you'd like to help reform marijuana laws in Louisiana, please contact Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and find out how you can get involved.
Last week, Louisiana Rep. Ted James (D–Baton Rouge) filed HB 1112, the Louisiana Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act, which would establish a comprehensive program allowing seriously ill Louisianans to use and safely access medical marijuana.
While the legislature enacted a bill seeking to institute a similar program last year, problems with that law — and prior ones dating to 1978 — have made the systems unworkable. For example, the current program requires a doctor’s prescription for a patient to legally possess and consume medical marijuana under state law. But under the federal Controlled Substances Act, doctors cannot prescribe marijuana. They can, however, recommend it.
HB 1112 removes this flaw and offers seriously ill patients and their families treatment options that may offer relief. Under the bill, patients could obtain up to 2.5 ounces of therapeutic cannabis from regulated establishments in a 14-day period. For a full summary of the bill, please click here.
If you are a Louisiana resident, please tell your lawmakers that you want to see an effective medical cannabis program in Louisiana and urge them to support HB 1112.