House Bill 149 reduces the penalty for someone caught possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis to a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail, whereas it’s currently a maximum sentence of 6 months. The penalty for a second cannabis possession offense will be reduced to a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 6 months, compared to a maximum sentence of 5 year prison as it is currently. The penalty for a third cannabis possession offense would be reduced to a maximum sentence of 2 years, with the fourth offense being a maximum jail sentence of 8 years; under current law, a person’s third and subsequent offenses can result in 20 years in prison.
Senate Bill 143 legalizes the possession, use and state-licensed distribution of cannabis medicines for those with glaucoma, cancer and spastic quadriplegia. Smoking cannabis would remain prohibited, but patients would be able to consume it through other methods such as edibles, tinctures, topicals and vaporizers.
Senate Bill 143 is sponsored by Senator Fred Mills (R-New Iberia); House Bill 149 is sponsored by Representative Austin Badon (D-New Orleans).