The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council will take up the marijuana possession debate at its January 24th meeting. An item was introduced at the January 10th meeting by Councilman Chandler Loupe and LaMont Cole to pull back some of the penalties for possession of the substance. The proposed item makes the penalty for possession of under 14 grams punishable by a $300 fine and no more than 15 days in jail.
According to governing.com, “Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, sales of recreational-use marijuana in California kicked off on Jan. 1. In Massachusetts, retail sales of cannabis are expected to start later this year in July. Voters in Maine similarly approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana in 2016. The state, however, has not yet adopted rules for licensed marijuana growers or retailers, nor has it begun accepting licenses. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have established a legal framework for sales of the drug.”
New Orleans in 2016 had a similar measure passed by its city council. Superintendent of Police for New Orleans Michael Harrison said of the ordinance, “The new law applies to anyone over the age of 17 holding less than 2.5 pounds of marijuana. It will be at the discretion of the police officer to determine whether the pot is for personal use or if the suspect intended to distribute it.” This allows officers to spend less time on simple possession charges.
The reality is America is much more accepting to the full out legalization of marijuana. A Gallup poll said, “Overall, 64 percent of those reached by Gallup said they support the legalization of marijuana, up 4 percentage points from October 2016. The percentage of Gallup respondents who support legalization has climbed consistently since 2012, when 48 percent of those polled said they supported it.”
With so many other states legalizing marijuana and Louisiana’s fiscal cliff battles each year in the legislature, it makes sense to many to begin having conversations about decriminalization and legalization. Other states are bringing in millions in tax revenue from the sales tax associated with marijuana sales. Weed smoking isn’t going away and support is growing for legalization. Will the metro council in Baton Rouge pass this ordinance? Should they? Fire off in the comment section tell us what you think. The Rouge Collection has reached out to metro council members to ask how they will vote next week, we will update after receiving responses from a majority of members.