The Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee was supposed to discuss and debate proposed legislation that would be the first step in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the state. That legislation, pun intended, was nipped in the bud before it ever had the chance to bloom.
The process by which the legislation was "derailed" was more about parliamentary procedure than it was about actually discussing the matter at hand. Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo called for a motion to involuntary defer the bill. That motion passed. This effectively removes the bill from consideration for this session of the legislature.
The "motion to defer" did not sit well with the author of House Bill 24, Candace Newell. Newell's comments were reported by the Louisiana Radio Network as she claimed "fearmongering" was behind the motion and was in fact the reason that marijuana/cannabis was criminalized to begin with. Newell's comments also suggest there is a racial component to the stereotypes associated with cannabis use too.
That these Black men would rape the white women, or they would be intrigued enough to want to sleep with these Black musicians and that is the fear that was put about in our society about making marijuana illegal.
Newell's comments reflect societal concerns from the 50s and 60s as the use of cannabis was growing in popularity across the United States.
It should be noted that there was and still is strong opposition to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes by most law enforcement agencies across the state. The legislation is also opposed by many church groups and organizations who feel the drug poses a danger to children.
Supporters of recreational the legalization of recreational marijuana say those jurisdictions across the country that have permitted and regulated the drug are seeing large increases in tax revenues. Newell suggested in a story published by LRN that millions of dollars could be added to the state's coffers if recreational marijuana was made legal. However, that will have to wait until at least another session of the legislature.
Representative Newell has filed two other marijuana bills for consideration this session. One of those measures has to do with the cultivation and sale of cannabis products. The other piece of legislation would determine how cannabis is taxed by the state.
As of now, only medical marijuana is available legally in Louisiana. Patients who are interested in that kind of treatment will need to see a doctor who can recommend or write a prescription. That prescription would then have to be filled at one of the state's licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
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