Members of the Louisiana House of Representatives have approved legislation to remove the threat of jail time for low-level marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 652 was approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday night with a 67 to 25 vote after receiving unanimous approval by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice last week. The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 652 would reduce the penalty for the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana for first-time as well as subsequent offenses, from up to 15 days in jail and a maximum $300 fine, to a $100 fine only. While there would be no possibility of jail time under the bill, these offenses would still be classified as a misdemeanor.

Separately, House Bill 699, which would legalize and regulate adult use marijuana and allow for limited personal cultivation, is scheduled for debate on the House floor on Tuesday 5/18/21.

Members of the Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice also approved House Bill 243 last week, sending it to the floor next. This measure would remove penalties for marijuana possession and distribution, but only if lawmakers approve separate legislation to regulate production and retail sales.

A separate bill that would legalize adult use marijuana with a focus on social equity (House Bill 637) is awaiting action from the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, where it is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday 5/12/21.

House Bill 391 was also approved by the House of Representatives last week in a 73 to 26 vote, sending the bill on to the Senate for further consideration. This measure would repeal the prohibition on physicians recommending medical marijuana for “inhalation” and in “raw or crude” form (medical cannabis flower). It also allows dispensaries to dispense two and a half ounces of marijuana per 14 day period. House lawmakers also approved a separate proposal to levy a tax on these products.

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