Penalties for simple marijuana possession are decreasing in Louisiana effective immediately.
The reduction came with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signing into law of a measure approved during the 2015 Louisiana Legislature.
Jindal’s office announced the bill signing Monday.
House Bill 149 sponsor state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, called it “a compassionate, smart and just approach to justice reform.”
The state’s sheriffs and district attorneys as well as the ACLU and the Catholic Bishops supported the measure.
Under the new law, someone caught with less than 14 grams of marijuana would face up to 15 days in jail and up to six months if caught with less than 2.5 pounds but more than 14 grams. A second-offense conviction would drop from a felony to a misdemeanor with a sentence of no more than six months. Currently, an offender would face up to eight years in prison.
If someone gets caught on a second offense — and it’s been more than two years since the first conviction — the violation would be treated as a first offense.
On a third offense, a felony charge would kick in, carrying a reduced penalty — up to two years in prison — from the current law’s up to 20 years. The maximum prison time on subsequent offenses would drop from 20 years to eight years.
The House voted 74-19 for the measure. The Senate approved the bill 27-12.