Bernard Noble was visiting his father in New Orleans 3 ½ years ago when two cops spotted him riding a bicycle. They stopped Noble, frisked him and found a small amount of marijuana — the equivalent of two joints.

Noble, a 47-year-old truck driver and father of three, is now serving a 13-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of marijuana possession. It was his fifth drug-possession conviction. He originally was sentenced to five years, but Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Jr. appealed and got a longer sentence.

Noble’s case is emblematic of the growing debate over Louisiana’s harsh punishment of marijuana possession, a debate that will get a public hearing Tuesday morning when a Senate committee hears Senate Bill 323.

This story originally was published by The Lens, an indenpendent, nonprofit newsroom serving New Orleans. Continue reading full story here.