Baton Rouge Lawmakers Vote to Lower Marijuana Possession Penalties

An ordinance to make the possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine rather than jail time has been approved by the Baton Rogue (Louisiana) Metropolitan Council.

The proposed law makes the first-time possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana a $40 fine. Second offenses would be a $60 fine, third offenses an $80 fine, and fourth and subsequent offenses an $100 fine. The ordinance now goes to Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome for consideration.

Broome says she  plans to “extensively review” the proposal, though she also says she has “no plans to veto” it. The measure could become law either through Broome’s signature, or her  inaction.

“My position aligns with BRPD and Chief Murphy Paul”, says Broome. “This ordinance will allow us to rededicate resources to felony offenders. It also attaches penalties to possession without the stigma of prison.”

Unfortunately once the law takes effect Baton Rogue police would still have the option of arresting those caught with marijuana under state law.  However, Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy Paul said on Wednesday that police would only arrest individuals if they were not cooperating or refused to give identification to police.

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