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Featured   7.11.2022

Louisiana Legislature Reduces Penalties for Certain Marijuana Crimes

Louisiana HB 652 isn’t Marijuana Decriminalization

In March of last year, Shreveport City Council voted to pass an ordinance that reduced the penalty for marijuana possession under 14 grams, on first and subsequent convictions.

In June 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 652, which mirrors the Shreveport ordinance in many areas. The Governor was clear that this legislation doesn’t decriminalize marijuana, but it will change how the drug is treated by law enforcement and in the court system. Its passage will reduce incarceration levels in parishes across the state. The penalty for a violation of possession of marijuana, less than 14 grams does not include any possible jail time and is punishable by a $100 fine ONLY.

When the bill was signed into law, Governor Edwards issued the following statement:

“I have signed HB 652, which contrary to the narrative developed in the press and elsewhere, does not decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, 14 grams or less. Instead, anyone convicted of this crime will now be subject to a maximum penalty of $100 instead of being exposed to parish prison time. This is not a decision I took lightly. In addition to carefully reviewing the bill, I also believe deeply that the state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states, that can ruin lives and destroy families, as well as cost taxpayers greatly. This measure passed Louisiana’s Legislature with bipartisan support following a robust discussion of the toll of over-incarceration on our people and our state. Taking this action is another step forward for Louisiana’s criminal justice reform efforts.”

Louisiana’s HB 775 to Go into Effect on August 1, 2022

On August 1, 2022, HB 775 will go into effect in Louisiana. HB 775 decriminalizes the possession of drug paraphernalia when that paraphernalia is used to consume marijuana, but only if the person possessing the paraphernalia is a patient of a state-sponsored medical marijuana program. As such, not everyone can benefit from HB 775 – only those who are patients of state-sponsored medical marijuana programs are immune from prosecution for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

What These New Laws and Changes Mean for You

Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug in Louisiana. Anyone in the state caught with 14 grams of marijuana or more could face serious consequences. A first-offense marijuana possession charge carries up to six months in jail and up to $500 in fines. Any possession of marijuana over 2.5 pounds is a serious felony offense in Louisiana. It’s important to remember that even if small amounts of marijuana have been partially decriminalized, that is not the same as full legalization. Possessing marijuana is still a crime in Louisiana. If you have been arrested for marijuana possession and need assistance, please contact the Baton Rouge drug crimes lawyers at Dewey & Braud Law, LLC. The criminal defense attorneys at Dewey & Braud Law will use their experience and record of success in drug offenses to get you the best case resolution possible.

We can help you fight unfair charges or help you with an expungement of charges from your record. Call today at (225) 953-8330 to schedule a consultation.


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