State lawmakers propose framework for legalization of marijuana, decriminalization and regulation

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 7:22 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Louisiana, but some state lawmakers want to be prepared if that were to change.

The framework for if weed is legalized will be discussed by lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

While many still push to legalize marijuana, Louisiana Rep. Candance Newell (D-New Orleans) is proposing two laws that would serve as blueprints for how legal marijuana would be handled.

“This is how it’s going to start,” Newell said. “This is how you’re going to sell it. This is how you’re going to grow it. Who and where you can sell it to and then we build out from there.”

Marijuana users will still have to hold off from smoking a joint legally, as these proposed laws don’t make the drug legal.

Newell explained these bills are just the framework.

“So often in this state we legalize stuff and then it’s two, three years later that we’re trying to play catch up to clean up how the industry wreaked havoc,” Newell said. “Be proactive, not reactive to anything that may happen.”

She said she believes these proposals would allow for economic growth and more job opportunities in the state.

“From planning and farming and harvesting to manufacturing to transportation, to retail sale,” Newell said.

Efforts to legalize pot have been met with pushback.

“Do we want another vice that’s legalized that we can hang our hat on? You know, I’m just not for it,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.

Sheriff Mancuso told 7News even if the drug is regulated, he thinks people will continue selling it on the streets.

“It’s going to have so many regulations on it and so much red tape,” Mancuso said. “It’s probably going to be more expensive than them buying it on the streets so you still go back to you don’t know what you’re getting when you buy it on the streets.”

Newell said she hopes users will choose to go the safer route and get a product from reputable vendors.

“This is a clean product,” she said. “This is a product that is safe for me to use responsibly.”

Newell said this is the third time she’ll be presenting this legislation and she said she hopes the bills make it out of committee and onto the House floor this year.

The legislative session starts on April 10, and will last no later than 6 p.m. on June 8.