Louisiana Relaxes Marijuana Regulations

The EBR Metro Council has passed a bill in late February that will essentially decriminalize marijuana in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

If caught with less than 14 grams of the substance by law enforcement authorities, the maximum punishment that can be handed down to offenders is a summons, which would, at most, lead to a fine by the courts.

As confirmed by Police Chief Murphy Paul after the announcement of the decision was made, the only way that a marijuana-related arrest would be made is if the offender refuses to present identification or cooperate with the law enforcement officers on the scene.

When taking into account the growing trend of states legalizing marijuana around the country, Louisiana has taken steps to be the first southern state to join the movement of pot decriminalization in the United States.

With the recent crackdown on marijuana-related policies on Capitol Hill, orchestrated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this move comes at a pivotal point in the fight for marijuana legalization on a federal level.

Sessions, a strong supporter of the Trump Administration's stance on strengthened marijuana policy, has led the charge on a second war on drugs in the United States.

A freshman Civil Engineering major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana Rashad Abdul-Aziz, sees the change in policy as a good one in the grand scheme of things.

“Me personally, I like it [because] it’ll keep more African-American males out of prison,” he said.

As far as the racial aspect of the situation goes, African Americans are almost 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for possession, regardless of the almost identical number of white pot smokers in the state of Louisiana, as illustrated by a 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In this regard, Abdul-Aziz’s thoughts on the situation have proven to be shared by at least a portion of the African-American community.

Freshman Civil Engineering major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Devin Raby, also commented on the new regulations put in place by the Metro Counsel.

“People are going to do what they do.” As far as the impact from a legal stance, Raby went on to say, “Like I said, weed has been illegal and people have been doing it. Nothing is going to change that.”

For many, marijuana culture in the city of Baton Rouge has been alive and well regardless of its legal status of the substance itself. This has led to individuals such as Raby viewing such a relatively significant piece of legislation as underwhelming.

While this legislation is historic in the sense that it has essentially legalized weed in a Southern state.

EBR Metro Councilman, Trae Welch, provides a voice of caution on the issue.

“It’s still a conviction and you are still having the same problem that you had before,” said Welch after supporters of the ordinance celebrated the victory.

With both New Orleans and Baton Rouge decriminalizing marijuana, the two biggest cities in Louisiana are now relatively weed-friendly venues among southern states.

Many state legislators are beginning to favor the idea of being able to allot more resources to more serious crimes and the possibility of new tax revenue from marijuana legalization. Many believe that at least partial legalization of the recreational drug could soon be headed to Louisiana.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.