On Wednesday, two bills focused on the legalization of marijuana – HB509 and HB564 – were killed in committee by the Louisiana legislature.
Both bills were defeated in the Criminal Justice committee, with Democrats voting for, and Republicans voting against.
Among those speaking in favor of legalization was Kevin Caldwell, founder and president of Commonsense NOLA. Speaking against were Louisiana Sheriffs and District Attorneys.
“The committee voted as we expected,” Caldwell said after the vote. “It is way too much to ask a Republican lawmaker to dare question the Sheriffs and District Attorneys, who financially benefit from prohibition, our state’s current policy. Even though the recent LSU poll shows a majority of citizens approve of adult use of cannabis, we have not reached a point where elected officials can challenge the power of the criminal injustice industry in Louisiana.”
According to the 2013 ACLU report Black and White, enforcing cannabis prohibition causes the United States as much as $46.5 million each year. Meanwhile, Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 brings in around $250 million per year in cannabis tax revenue.
The votes against full legalization come as medical marijuana patients grow weary of waiting for product. Medical marijuana has been legal in Lousiana for four years, but many patients have yet to receive their prescriptions. According to GB Sciences Louisiana, it should have a limited supply of product available in June of this year. Southern University’s AgCenter’s product won’t be developed until at least this fall.
Caldwell was clear that this vote is not the end however, and that Commonsense NOLA and other pro-legalization groups will continue to push for legalization.
“We will eventually prevail,” Caldwell noted.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.