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Several Cannabis Reforms Advance in Louisiana, Including a Decriminalization Bill

Louisiana took a step toward minimizing cannabis prohibition in the state when the House of Representatives approved a bill to decriminalize possession on May 11.

Under the state's current law, those who possess an ounce of cannabis or less can be charged with 15 days in jail and a $300 fine for the first conviction, with the penalties significantly increasing for those who face a second, third and fourth conviction.

House Bill 652, which passed in a 65-25 vote, would remove the threat of jail time and reduce the maximum penalty to a $100 fine for the possession of up to 14 grams for first-time offenses. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

And the state House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice approved a measure last week that would remove criminal penalties for the possession, distribution or dispensing of cannabis in the state, which is now headed to the House floor, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported.

Furthermore, the House also approved House Bill 391 in a 73- 26 vote last week, which now heads to the Senate. The measure would permit dispensaries to dispense up to 2 1/2 ounces of cannabis to any individual patient per 14 days and would revoke the prohibition on physicians who recommend medical cannabis for "inhalation" or in flower forms, the reform organization reported.

And lawmakers also recently approved legislation for a levy tax on raw or crude cannabis products recommended for therapeutic use. 

Looking ahead, a separate legislation, House Bill 699, is set for debate on the House floor on May 18, the reform organization reported. The legislation would legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis and permit personal cultivation in the state.

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