Apr 25, 2023
Louisiana lawmakers reject bill to legalize recreational marijuana
Louisiana lawmakers Tuesday killed an effort to legalize recreational marijuana, leaving the state's medical cannabis program as the only legal way to secure the drug.
The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 9-4 to scuttle Democratic New Orleans Rep. Candace Newell's House Bill 24 to create a legal recreational marijuana market in Louisiana.
Twenty-two states have already legalized recreational marijuana, the latest being Delaware this week.
Newell argued that the 1937 federal law outlawing marijuana was created because of "racism, bigotry and fear-mongering" after a national propaganda campaign demonizing the drug.
She said the campaign stoked fears of Black musicians "smoking reefers" and "raping white women."
Newell and others who testified in favor of the bill also said legalization would create a booming economy that would benefit the state.
"We should not still be criminalizing people when in other states their economy is flourishing," she said.
Ken Caldwell of the Marijuana Policy Project estimated Louisiana supports an "underground" marijuana market of $1 billion.
But Louisiana sheriffs, district attorneys and chiefs of police opposed the bill as a public safety issue and opponents said legalization would harm children.
"It's not worth mortgaging the future of our youth to create tax revenue," said Will Hall of the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy.
Though lawmakers rejected the outright legalization of recreational marijuana, the state's cannabis evolution has escalated during the past decade in liberalizing its laws.
Good Day, Farm, LSU AgCenter's medical marijuana
grower, is ramping up cannabis production at its new
225,000-square-foot facility in Ruston. --Wednesday,
Jan. 19, 2022 Greg Hilburn