August 4, 2022

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Shreveport is the Third City in Louisiana to Decriminalize Marijuana Following NOLA and Baton Rouge

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“American Pot – 2015” by Jurassic Blueberries is marked CC0 1.0

On Tuesday, Shreveport City Council finally voted on a proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession in the city. The proposal was accepted, with only two council members voting against.

This came as no surprise given the widespread support the legislation received from constituents and other politicians. Shreveport District A councilor, Tabatha Taylor, a proponent of the proposal, said she had “sent this particular piece of legislation to Caddo District Attorney James Stewart to see if there was any objection to our activities and I have not received any.” The ordinance was also supported by Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond and Mayor Adrian Perkins who drafted it.

Said it was something he had been working on for a while, Perkins stated, “Our government has (seen) it appropriate to allow the pharmaceutical industry to sell marijuana and make millions and millions of dollars, and yet we are losing there are still far too many of us teenagers on marijuana charges. ”

Telling this sentiment, District C Councilor John Nickelson, who was also a supporter of the proposal, stated that he felt motivated to support it because “I don’t believe that people are arrested or in possession of small amounts of marijuana Imprisonment should be threatened. ”

The disproportionate nature of the old laws affected veterans, people with mental health problems, poor communities, and especially minority communities. Black people in Louisiana are 3.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, although blacks and whites use cannabis equally. Life has been ruined by marijuana laws that don’t apply fairly to everyone.

Prior to this ordinance, people who had 14 grams or less of marijuana would face a $ 300 fine and 15 days in jail for a first offense. a $ 500 fine and six months’ imprisonment for a second offense; a US $ 2,500 fine and two year prison sentence for forced labor for a third offense; and a $ 5,000 fine and eight year imprisonment for a fourth and all subsequent offenses.

The proposal changes these ridiculous penalties so that adults who have less than 14 grams of marijuana are only fined $ 50 or a community service. This penalty remains the same for the first and all subsequent offenses.

“We can pass this law because we have state law to criminalize crimes,” said Nickelson. “We cannot turn a crime into an offense under state law. But because marijuana is a criminal offense, we can make it a criminal offense under city law and impose punishments as we deem appropriate. “However, city council members cannot reduce the sentences of those already in jail for possession of marijuana.

If you’re already planning a trip to Shreveport, don’t. Taylor noted that this legislation was not about encouraging people to use marijuana, but rather about ending the harmful effects of the catastrophic war on drugs on incarceration. Taylor stated, “For laypeople this is not an all-rounder.”

“I think we all know the impact a criminal conviction can have and the impact it can have on your job training, just your overall quality of life,” said Taylor. “When Councilor Nickelson discussed this with me, I thought it was a step in the right direction. Hopefully this legislation will lead to changes at the state level. ”

Shreveport will be the third Louisiana city to pass this type of legislation after the leadership of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In 2016, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession in the city. Similarly, Baton Rouge councilors passed a city ordinance in 2018 that reduced prison sentences as a punishment for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Even more revolutionary was the recent legalization of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Medical marijuana sales began in August 2019, but the drug was only available to a limited group of patients with certain medical conditions.

Louisiana expanded medical marijuana eligibility in August 2020 so doctors can recommend it for any disease they consider “debilitating to an individual patient” that they believe cannabis could help treat.

These incredible changes are laying the foundation for a cooling revolution in Louisiana that can not only help lower the state’s astoundingly high incarceration rate, but also offer financial, medical, and recreational benefits.

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