Lawmakers in Louisiana’s House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee voted 7-5 yesterday in favor of advancing House Bill 524, the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization proposal.
The bill now advances to the House floor for consideration although it is expected to face heavy opposition in the Republican-controlled body. If approved there, it would face further opposition in the Senate and then potentially from Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who has said he supports medical cannabis but opposes adult-use legalization.
“As I almost always do, I’ll take a bill as it arrives on my desk and see what it contains. I’m not going to speculate now on that. But I do have great interest in that bill and what it says especially if it does make it up to the fourth floor.” — Gov. Edwards, in a statement on Tuesday, via The Advocate
The bill originally would have put the legalization question to voters as a November 2022 referendum and then decriminalized cannabis if voters approved the reforms, but the primary sponsor Rep. Richard Nelson (R) later shifted away from that strategy. The now-updated legislation instead would allow municipalities to opt out of the industry at the local level.
Despite many lawmakers’ opposition, a two-thirds majority of Louisiana voters support legalizing adult-use cannabis, according to a recent poll.
Committee members yesterday also advanced cannabis decriminalization legislation in a 6-5 vote that — like the aforementioned voter referendum plan — would only take effect if lawmakers first approve a plan to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis.
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