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Bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Louisiana passes full Senate
A proposal to soften Louisiana's harsh marijuana laws by reducing penalties for possession continues to gain steam in the Louisiana Legislature.
The Senate voted 27-12 Monday (May 25) to advance legislation that would create a new penalty system for marijuana possession dealing with amounts less than 2.5 pounds.
The measure's sponsor, J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said his bill (SB 241) brings Louisiana's marijuana laws closer in line with other states, "in a way that is more humane." For example, the bill reduces the maximum penalty for possession from 20 years in prison to eight, raises the threshold for a felony-level possession charge and adds a second-chance provision for first-time offenders.
Under current law, the maximum penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana up to 60 pounds are a $500 fine and six moths in jail for a first offense (a misdemeanor), a $2,500 fine and five years in prison for a second offense (a felony); and a $5,000 fine and a 20-year prison term (a felony).
Morrell's bill does not change penalties for first-offense possession of marijuana dealing with amounts between 14 grams and 2.5 pounds. The legislation makes possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana punishable by maximum sentence of a $300 fine and 15 days in jail. Second offenses are a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail; third offenses are a felony punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and two years in prison; and fourth or subsequent offenses are a felony punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and eight years in prison.
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Here's what might happen to marijuana prices if it were legalized across the US
Over the last two decades marijuana has practically been an unstoppable force.
Since 1995, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, while four states (along with Washington D.C.) have legalized all aspects of marijuana, including its recreational use for adults. Even in states where marijuana failed to gain approval initially, such as Oregon, the proverbial scales were tipped in favor of supporters just a few short years later.
Even Congress is getting in on the act. In March, three U.S. Senators introduced the CARERS Act, which is a bill aimed at decriminalizing medical marijuana. The CARERS Act would make it easier for banks to make loans to legal medical marijuana businesses, would remove some of the barriers associated with medical marijuana research, and most importantly would reschedule marijuana from a schedule 1, or illicit drug, to a schedule 2 drug, signifying that it does have medical benefits, even if it is prone to abuse.
But, have you ever really thought about the hypothetical economic implications of what would happen if marijuana was made legal nationwide?
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