Connect with us


Louisiana Bills To Decriminalize Marijuana Paraphernalia And Provide Cannabis Pardons Head To Governor’s Desk



Lawmakers in both chambers of Louisiana’s legislature have now signed off on two separate pieces of cannabis-related legislation, sending bills to the governor that would decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia and make people with past cannabis possession convictions eligible for pardon relief.

On Wednesday, House lawmakers approved changes to the bills that the Senate made last week. The measures, both sponsored by Rep. Delisha Boyd (D), next head to the desk of Gov. Jeff Landry (R).

One bill, HB 165, would limit the penalty for the possession, sale and use of marijuana paraphernalia to a $100 fine. Under existing law, cannabis paraphernalia carries a penalty of up to $300 and 15 days behind bars on the first offense, which increases on later offenses. A second conviction carries up to a $1,000 fine and imprisonment of not more than six months, while third and subsequent convictions carry fines of up to $2,500 and imprisonment “with or without hard labor” for up to two years.

Boyd said ahead of the vote that Senate amendments “were just put on to clarify that this is for personal, not wholesale usage” of paraphernalia. House members voted 69-24 to concur with the other chamber’s changes.

The other measure, HB 391, would make people convicted of cannabis possession eligible for a pardon after paying all court costs associated with the offense, without the need for a recommendation from the Board of Pardons. Individuals could only receive a pardon for their first possession offense, and anyone “who received such pardon shall not be entitled to receive another pardon by the governor pursuant to this Section,” the legislation says.

The Senate amendments, which Boyd said are “technical in nature,” were approved by the House in a 62-30 vote.

The Senate had previously voted down both measures on initial consideration, but the body passed them on reconsideration votes.

Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager for the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said his organization is “impressed with the progress the Louisiana legislature continues to make in regards to cannabis policy.”

“The consequences of prohibition are being slowly dealt with one step at a time in the Bayou State,” he told Marijuana Moment. “We certainly hope that Gov. Landry sees the amount of bipartisan support these bills have and signs these bills into law.”

The latest developments follow a decision by House lawmakers last week to scuttle separate legislation that would have laid out a regulatory framework for legalizing adult-use marijuana in the state, with members voting 57–37 against the proposal from Rep. Candace Newell (D).

That measure, HB 978, would not have legalized cannabis itself but instead would have begun establishing a regulatory system that would take effect if either the state or the federal government later legalized marijuana for adults.

Opponents said they were against legalizing marijuana and couldn’t support a regulatory bill.

Another bill, which lawmakers sent to the governor’s desk earlier this month, would transfer medical marijuana cultivation duties in the state from Louisiana State University and Southern University to private contractors.

“They are the only two higher education systems in the country that are in the pot business right now,” Sen. Patrick McMath (R) said of the bill, “and it is my belief that it’s time we get them out of that business and let them focus on higher education.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

As it stands in Louisiana, possession of up to 14 grams (or half an ounce) of marijuana is decriminalized, punishable by a $100 fine without the threat of jail time.

Last year, former Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) also signed into law a measure that was designed to streamline expungements for people with first-time marijuana possession convictions.

Whether current Gov. Jeff Landry (R) will be willing to sign into law any legislation moving the state toward adult-use legalization is another question. While his Democratic predecessor approved more incremental steps and acknowledged legalization as inevitable, he consistently said the state would not legalize under his tenure.

Seven in 10 Louisianans support legalizing recreational marijuana possession for adults—and nine in 10 back medical cannabis legalization—according to a survey released last year.

While marijuana legalization has stalled in the Louisiana legislature, there have been efforts to end prohibition and tax cannabis sales that have moved without being enacted.

For example, a comprehensive legalization measure and complementary cannabis tax bill from Rep. Richard Nelson (R) advanced through committee before the tax proposal was rejected on the House floor in 2021, torpedoing the broader measure’s chances.

Lawmakers have also taken several steps to reform other cannabis laws and build on the state’s medical marijuana program in recent sessions.

In 2022, for example, the former governor signed a slew of marijuana reform bills, including one key measure that would expand the number of medical dispensaries that can operate in the state and another to prevent police from searching people’s homes over the smell of cannabis.

Texas Activists Turn In Signatures To Put Marijuana Decriminalization On Lockhart Ballot This November

Photo courtesy of Carlos Gracia.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.