‘We shouldn’t be worried about two people sitting on a couch smoking weed:’ Advocates praise new Louisiana marijuana laws
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There are several new laws when it comes to marijuana now in effect across Louisiana.
One new law prevents police from using the smell of marijuana to enter your home without a warrant.
WAFB spoke with several local police chiefs in the Baton Rouge area, who are still trying to figure out all the details surrounding this new law before they come out with a stance on it.
Advocates say the new law brings Louisiana into the 21st century when it comes to marijuana.
“It allows us to catch up to the rest of the country, as most states have transitioned to making marijuana a very petty and a very small issue when it comes to the criminal laws,” said State Rep. Marcus Bryant (D), District 96, who sponsored the bill.
For the past few years, Louisiana lawmakers have become increasingly more progressive when it comes to medical marijuana and criminal laws dealing with the drug.
Starting Monday, August 1, police can no longer use the smell of marijuana alone to search your home without a warrant.
“It protects our veterans, it protects our students, it protects all of our patients that are on medical marijuana,” said State Rep. Bryant.
Rep. Bryant hopes police will focus more on folks who are distributing marijuana illegally without a license or a permit.
“The home is where you’re supposed to feel most comfortable and safe in and not be subject to any warrantless, unconstitutional invasions of your privacy,” said State Rep. Bryant.
Other new laws when it comes to weed include:
- Expanding the number of medical marijuana pharmacies allowed to operate in the state.
- Allowing out-of-state patients to use their prescription in Louisiana.
- Allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe marijuana as medical treatment.
- Provides relative to employment discrimination against public employees being treated with medical marijuana.
“Everything that we’re seeing today really brings us more in line with other states, and really allows us to start utilizing and integrating it more with mainstream medicine, as opposed to it being some sort of fringe treatment option,” said Peter Prevot, with the Marijuana Pharmacy Association.
“We’ve never liked this law. And we are glad to see that this legislation has been pushed,” said Eugene Collins, President of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP.
Collins said old marijuana laws have historically had a negative impact on African Americans in underserved communities.
“We waste a lot of time enforcing laws that don’t add to public safety. We have a real problem in our area with gun-related tragedies, right? Let’s focus on that. Like we shouldn’t be worried about two people sitting on a couch smoking weed,” said Collins.
While some would call this progress, another new law does make it a crime to use marijuana in a motor vehicle.
WAFB is told BRPD leaders will be discussing these new laws when it comes to marijuana enforcement at a meeting on Tuesday, August 2.
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