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Louisiana: Various Cannabis Law Reform Bills Advance to Governor’s Desk

Louisiana lawmakers have been busy advancing a flurry of marijuana-related legislation that now awaits the governor’s signature.

Over the past legislative session, the House has advanced no fewer than five cannabis-related bills to amend Louisiana’s marijuana laws that are now on the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

House Bill 629 would prohibit law enforcement from carrying out a search of a person’s residence without a warrant solely on the basis of cannabis odor.

Another measure – House Bill 988 – affords greater employment protections to medical marijuana patients in Louisiana. It stipulates they cannot be subjected to “negative employment consequences based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana” so long as they are registered with the state’s medical cannabis program.

Louisiana would join 21 other states, plus Washington, DC, in moving to ensure that medical cannabis patients are not discriminated against by employers on the basis of state-legal cannabis use.

The third bill – House Bill 775 – would legalize all cannabis-related paraphernalia that’s “solely used or intended for use for the inhalation of raw or crude marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, or a chemical derivative of tetrahydrocannabinols when the person is a patient of a state-sponsored medical marijuana program.”

House Bill 137, meanwhile, ensures out-of-state medical marijuana patients are immune from criminal prosecution for possessing cannabis that’s legal for them to have in their home state.

The final cannabis-related bill – House Bill 190 – would expand the roster of health practitioners authorized to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment to include certain senior nurses.

Taken together, these piecemeal cannabis reforms would represent significant progress for Louisiana’s fairly restrictive medical cannabis program.

After garnering legislative approval, the five bills will all automatically become law absent the governor’s signature should he decide not to sign them. Gov. Edwards has, however, shown himself amenable to cannabis reform having signed a bill into law last year decriminalizing low-level cannabis possession.

Commenting on the measures, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano commended Louisiana’s lawmakers for taking long overdue action on cannabis reform.

“These are common sense reforms that will provide further protections and freedoms to patients and others and they ought to be enacted swiftly by Gov. John Bel Edwards,” he said.

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