Bill to Reduce Cannabis Penalties, Allow Expungements, Passes Louisiana Legislature, Heads to Governor
Louisiana’s House of Representatives has passed House Bill 149, a proposal to drastically reduce the penalties for cannabis possession while allowing for the expungement of certain cannabis convictions, with a 74 to 19 vote. The vote comes just days after the Senate passed the measure 54 to 37. It now heads to Governor Bobby Jindal, who plans to sign it into law.
House Bill 149, sponsored by Representative Austin Badon, will reduce the penalty for possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis from a potential six month jail sentence, to a maximum jail sentence of 15 days. The penalty for a second cannabis possession offense – any amount not deemed for distribution – would be reduced to a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of six months; it’s currently a felony with a potential five year prison sentence.
The penalty for a third cannabis possession offense would be reduced to a maximum sentence of two years, with the fourth offense being a maximum of eight years. Under current Louisiana law, a third cannabis possession offense (and all subsequent offenses) can result in a 20 year prison sentence.
The bill also includes a provision to allow those with a conviction for cannabis possession to have the charge removed from their record (though only if they didn’t receive another cannabis-related charge within a two-year period afterward).
Though it’s not certain when, Governor Bobby Jindal plans to sign the measure into law.