On Monday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed two pro-marijuana bills and changed the landscape on the state’s cannabis industry. One of the bills sets up a framework for dispensing medical marijuana. The other bill reforms the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession.
In April, Governor Jindal stated that he is open to legislation that legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries as long as the industry is tightly regulated. Governor Jindal did not issue a press release explaining why he signed the bills or offer any commentary about the importance of the two bill signings.
Second attempt by both Senators
Democratic state Senator J.P. Morrell sponsored the bill which effectively decriminalized marijuana. Senator Morrell attributed passage of the bill to the support received from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association.
Last year, dozens of sheriffs appeared at a Senate committee hearing last year to demonstrate their opposition to his bill, which had proposed similar statutory changes. Morrell’s bill died in that committee in 2014 after more than three hours of debate on the measure.
In early May, the Louisiana State Senate passed a bill authorizing one grower and ten dispensaries across the state. The bill was sponsored by Republican State Senator Fred Mills and limits the use of medical marijuana to patients who suffer from glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia or are undergoing chemotherapy.
Last year, Senator Mills submitted a similar bill which died in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee after he faced significant opposition from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and Louisiana’s District Attorney’s Association.
The Louisiana medical marijuana industry took two major steps forward this past month. Two bills that died the previous year were signed into law by the Governor. The legislation submitted by Senator Morrell is expected to save the state around $17 million over a five years period.
Louisiana joined a growing list of states that have enacted marijuana reform. Now, 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized marijuana, or both. Also, 14 states have legalized a limited form of marijuana by allowing patients access to cannabidiol (CBD).
It seems that Congress is waiting for every state to enact marijuana legislation before it will take action.