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Senate Committee Rejects Changes To Marijuana Penalties

Senate Committee Rejects Changes To Marijuana Penalties

Senators have refused to reduce Louisiana's criminal penalties for marijuana possession, siding with the state's district attorneys and sheriffs who opposed the proposal.

A Senate judiciary committee voted 4-3 against the bill, likely killing it for the session.

Sens. J.P. Morrell and Robert Adley sought to make simple possession of marijuana a misdemeanor no matter how many times a person is convicted of the crime.

Current law toughens penalties for second and later offenses, carrying felony sentences and possibly several years in jail.

Supporters say the bill would put Louisiana's marijuana laws in line with most other states, including Mississippi and Texas.

Opponents, including sheriffs and district attorneys, called marijuana a "gateway drug" and said lessening penalties would increase its use.

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