May 12, 2015
Austin Badon, HB 149, Louisiana, penalties
Tomorrow, the Louisiana House of Representatives will consider HB 149, a bill that would reduce the penalties for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges. Although penalties would still be staggering for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it could shave years off of marijuana consumers’ sentences.
[caption id="attachment_8775" align="alignright" width="240"] HB 149 sponsor Rep. Austin Badon[/caption]
While first offense marijuana possession would remain a misdemeanor and subsequent possession charges would remain felonies, HB 149 would significantly reduce the amount of time a marijuana consumer could spend in prison for a second or subsequent marijuana possession conviction. For instance, HB 149 would reduce the maximum sentence for a second conviction from five years to two years. It would also reduce the possible fine.
Louisiana has some of the most draconian marijuana laws in the country, and HB 149 would be a positive step toward sensible reform.