General

Louisiana Legislature convenes; slew of marijuana policy reforms proposed!

Urge your legislators to stop criminalizing cannabis consumers.

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.

Write your lawmakers to let them know you want 2020 to be the year Louisiana stops arresting cannabis consumers.

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.

To weigh in on any of these bills, you can look up your legislator here and give them a call. Or you can use our automated system and rewrite the letter to focus on the issue(s) you care most about.

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!

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Medical Marijuana

Alabama Senate could vote on medical cannabis this week!

Urge your state legislators to stand up for patients!

On February 20, Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a medical cannabis bill — SB 165 — in an 8-1 vote. It could get a Senate floor vote as soon as this week!

Please write your state senator and state representative right now to let them know you want them to stand up for Alabama’s patients.

Alabama’s lack of medical marijuana protections is increasingly an outlier. Thirty-three states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, allow medical cannabis, and Mississippi voters will get to decide the issue directly in November. Polling shows 75% of Alabama voters support medical cannabis.

But because Alabama doesn’t have a citizen initiative process, the only way to bring a compassionate law to the state is for state lawmakers to pass a bill.

While the Senate advanced a compassionate medical cannabis bill in 2019, the House has never voted on the issue. Let’s build a drumbeat of momentum to make 2020 the year that Alabama patients finally get relief.

Write your lawmakers today, and then spread the word to other compassionate Alabamians. To learn more about the bill, check out our summary.

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Medical Marijuana

Bill to add inhalation to medical marijuana program passed Louisiana Legislature!

Contact Gov. John Bel Edwards and ask him to sign the bill.

On Wednesday, the Louisiana Legislature passed HB 358, a bill that would allow patients to inhale (but not smoke) medical marijuana. Louisiana is the only one of the 33 medical marijuana states that does not allow this important method of administration. The bill is now on the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards awaiting his signature.

Contact the governor now and ask him to sign this important legislation!

After you've asked the governor to sign the bill, please spread the word to others in Louisiana.

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Medical Marijuana

Weekend Action Alert: Add inhalation to Louisiana’s medical cannabis program!

Contact your senator now in support of adding inhalation to the medical marijuana program!

Yesterday, a bill was barely defeated that would allow for inhalation of medical marijuana. Right now, patients are severely limited on how they can use medical marijuana.

But there's still hope! The legislature is back in session this weekend, and there is a chance to reconsider the bill and have another vote as soon as TODAY. Please write your senator right now in favor of allowing patients to use medical marijuana through inhalation.

Many patients with severe pain, spasms, and nausea need the immediate relief inhaled cannabis provides. Louisiana is the only one of the 33 medical cannabis states that fails to allow this important mode of administration.

It's so important to contact your elected officials, so please do so NOW. Then, spread the word to others in Louisiana, so that they, too, can speak up for a workable medical cannabis program.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bills into law

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana! These two bills add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Congratulations to Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana and all the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Legislature passes medical marijuana reform this session

This session, the Louisiana Legislature passed two bills to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. HB 579 and HB 627 add a variety of new conditions including autism, PTSD, and intractable pain. These bills are now on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. If you have a second, call the governor and politely ask him to sign HB 579 and HB 627. His constituent services number is (225) 342-0991.

This is a great step towards Louisiana having a functional medical marijuana program. Next session, we are hopeful the legislature will allow the vaporization of medical marijuana so that patients can finally have real access to the medicine they need.

Many thanks go out to the activists that showed up to the statehouse and contacted their lawmakers in support of these reforms!

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General

Louisiana Lawmakers Considering Penalty Reduction, Medical Expansion

Last week, the Louisiana Legislature convened, and bills to reform the medical program and decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been filed! These bills are important steps towards patient access and sane marijuana policy in the Bayou State.

Under the current laws, if you are caught with marijuana in Louisiana, you could be facing jail time. HB 611 would change this by instituting a $100 fine for those caught with up to one ounce of marijuana. HB 579 would expand patient access to medical marijuana by allowing more conditions to qualify, such as intractable pain, PTSD, and other conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana.

If you are a Louisiana resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support these sensible reforms.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Worker Protections Into Law

Jun 29, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

LA, Louisiana, SB 35, Yvonne Colomb

Last Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law SB 35 — Sen. Yvonne Colomb’s bill to prevent workers employed in the medical cannabis sector from facing felony criminal charges simply for going to work. This important victory marks a critical improvement to legislation first enacted in 1978.

With the governor’s signature, seriously ill Louisianans are one step closer to having access to medical cannabis treatment, but a few more problems remain. Specifically, the state continues to disallow the vaporization of cannabis — which MPP considers an essential element of a comprehensive medical cannabis program — and state regulations actively require doctors to put their DEA licenses at risk in order to recommend patients for the program.

Nevertheless, the program is moving ahead: the two universities granted licenses to operate marijuana cultivation centers continue to move forward; Louisiana State University has indicated it expects medical cannabis to be available for patients before the end of the year.

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Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Protection Bill Headed to Governor

On Monday, SB 35, Sen. Yvonne Colomb’s bill to establish legal protections for medical cannabis industry workers, was approved by the Louisiana House. It now heads to Governor John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign it into law.

The passage of this bill is critical to ensuring Louisiana will someday finally have a workable medical marijuana program. However, there are a few other tweaks — either to regulations that put doctors at risk under federal law or to statutes to require those regulations to be fixed — needed to ensure a workable program.

MPP sends hearty congratulations to everyone who contacted their elected officials on behalf of this important bill, particularly the hardworking team at Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana who have spent years on the ground organizing on behalf of the seriously ill in the state.

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Prohibition

Louisiana Man Serving 13 Years for Two Joints Has Sentence Reduced

[caption id="attachment_10209" align="alignright" width="200"]bernard-noble Bernard Noble[/caption]

Simply being arrested for marijuana possession is bad enough, and can have life-long consequences. But imagine spending 13 years in prison for a small personal amount of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol. That's what Bernard Noble, a Louisiana man with a history of minor non-violent drug possession offenses, has been subjected to since being convicted in 2010. Now, thanks to the tireless work of his family, his defense attorney, advocates around the country, he will free in 2018.

Huffington Post reports:

Bernard Noble, a 50-year-old father of seven, has spent the last six years in prison in Louisiana serving out a sentence of 13 and a half years for possession of what was the equivalent of two joints’ worth of marijuana.

Noble’s case was a rallying cry for those seeking reform of harsh sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. And Monday, after years of litigation, multiple articles on his case (including from The Huffington Post), documentaries, podcasts, rallies and petitions, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro agreed to resentence Noble to eight years, Noble’s attorney Jee Park announced in a statement. That means he could be free in less than two more years given the time he’s already served behind bars.

“To me, eight years is still too long for Bernard and his family,” Park said, “but the prospect of going home and being reunited with his children in less than 2 years brought relief to Bernard.”

Park said she’s hopeful that Noble, who she described as a “caring and responsible father, successful entrepreneur, [with] no violence in his past” might be paroled and released even sooner. Noble’s previous sentence did not include the possibility of parole.

Noble was caught with the equivalent of two joints’ worth of marijuana in 2010. At first, Noble was sentenced to five years in prison. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office appealed that ruling and took the case all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Noble had seven prior convictions on his record, stretching back to 1989. All were convictions for possession of small amounts of drugs; two were for cocaine and the rest were for marijuana. All were nonviolent, and four were misdemeanors and three were felonies. The state used two of the felony charges in their branding of Noble as a “habitual offender” under Louisiana law. That allowed them to apply the maximum possible sentence against Noble, without a chance of parole.

...

Read HuffPost’s full interview with Noble from 2015 here.

MPP would like to congratulate Mr. Noble on this victory and thank all the people whose efforts are helping bring him home.

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