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Thu May 23, 2013, 09:34 PM

Louisiana Marijuana Sentencing Reform Bill Fails [View all]

State Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) had introduced a bill to address this reality:

As of 2012, Louisiana held the honor of having the highest prison population in the world, with an estimated 40,000 people locked up in the state's prisons. That number is cited as thirteen times times the total number of inmates in Chinese prisons. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that more than 12-percent of inmates at the state and federal levels are serving for marijuana offenses, costing Americans an estimated one billion dollars a year (that's with nine zeroes people).


HB 103 was intended to create more appropriate sentences for marijuana. A third arrest for marijuana possession in Louisiana can result in a 20 year sentence. No distinction is made between people arrested for something like simple possession and violent offenders under sentencing laws in the state.

Badon's bill went to the floor for the third reading and the final vote had a majority of the legislators present voting in favor of the legislation, with 46 yeas to the 45 nays. However, though the majority present voted in favor, any bill must pass with a simple majority of total house members. As there are 105 house members, those 46 yes' fell short of the 53 necessary to enact new law.

HB 103, had set to create more appropriate sentences for marijuana and cannabinoid offenses—sentences that could help boost the state's economy by collecting fines, and reducing the state's world-record prison population with more realistic sentencing guidelines. The law would have also created a crowbar of separation between marijuana and synthetics (which have been shown to have side-effects and can create legitimate health problems).

Please, Louisiana. Stop this nonsense.

The legislation can be brought to vote again.

Pops was arrested for possession back in the day. Your law could've prevented the inventor of the jazz solo from ever achieving his brilliance. You're so proud of your jazz, Louisiana. Jazz and reefer have a long and storied history. Stop pretending it's something it's not and stop undermining the lives of the people in your state.

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