Some lawmakers worry medical marijuana could spur corruption
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As a majority of Louisiana lawmakers push forward with a proposed medical marijuana law, some are looking to the past — and not with nostalgia.
Some 15 years after former Gov. Edwin Edwards was convicted of bribery and extortion in a corruption scheme involving riverboat casino licenses, some lawmakers worry weaknesses in the medical marijuana proposal could lead to similar abuse.
"We're opening this up for corruptness," Rep. James Armes said before the House voted 70-29 in favor of Sen. Fred Mills' medical marijuana proposal. The bill, which Gov. Bobby Jindal says he will sign, is up for a final vote in the Senate this week after changes were made in the House.
Armes and a handful of lawmakers say that without safeguards, clout and influence peddling could play a role in who is granted a license to cultivate and distribute medical-grade pot.
Many of the guidelines governing the process haven't been written yet. That's because the bill directs state boards and agencies to develop those rules.
That puts power in the hands of state bureaucrats and politicians who will ultimately make the rules and issue licenses.
"I don't know if I trust some of these boards," said Armes, a Leesville Democrat who voted against the bill.
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