Louisiana House Rejects Bill to Tax Adult-Use Cannabis

Lawmakers in Louisiana’s House rejected a measure to tax adult-use cannabis sales if and when the state passes the reforms, likely dooming the reforms for this year and the next.

Full story after the jump.

The Louisiana House on Tuesday narrowly defeated a measure to tax adult-use cannabis sales were the state to ever pass the reforms, likely preventing the Legislature from approving legalization this year or next, WDSU reports. The tax measure affects 2022 because it is not a fiscal session.

The proposal needed two-thirds of the House to pass; the vote was 47-48.

The bill would have set cannabis taxes at 50% – half for the state’s general fund and half to local governments. Twenty percent of the local government share would have been earmarked for law enforcement.

Republican Rep. Richard Nelson, the sponsor of the tax bill and a separate bill to legalize cannabis for adults, estimated legalized cannabis sales would have amounted to $100 million in annual tax revenues. He said he would not bring up the recreational cannabis bill because of the House vote against the tax legislation.

“Right now, all this money, we have zero. It’s nothing. It’s all going to the drug dealers. We don’t pass this bill, it’s going to go to the drug dealers this year, it’s going to go to the drug dealers next year.” – Nelson on the House floor via WDSU

Last week, the chamber passed a measure to decriminalize cannabis in the state. That bill, which still requires Senate approval, lowers penalties for low level possession to a $100 fine and no jail time.

Among Louisiana voters, broad cannabis legalization is overwhelmingly popular as a poll released in March from JMC Analytics and Polling found 67% of Louisianans support the reforms. A separate poll by the firm released this week found majority support for legalization in nine of the Republican-controlled districts surveyed.

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