A bill aiming to reduce the sentences of marijuana possession in Louisiana advanced Tuesday in the Senate.
Current state law says someone convicted for a second time can face up to five years in jail, and up to 20 years for subsequent convictions. But New Orleans Rep. Austin Badon’s bill would change all that for non-violent offenders.
It would reduce jail time for a second conviction to up to two years. A third conviction would be reduced to up to three years, and any further convictions would result in up to only eight years in jail.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Kostelka expressed concern that, if passed, the bill would be the first step to legalizing marijuana in Louisiana.
But Badon said he didn't have a comment for that.
"I mean, I personally have not made up my mind on whether it should be legalized or not. But right now my bill is simply trying to keep families together and to keep people from going on the unemployment rolls."
Proponents argue the bill won’t make Louisiana softer on drugs – but smarter. It now heads to the full Senate floor for debate on final passage.