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Louisiana Gov. Signs Bill Reducing Penalties for Low-Level Possession

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Wednesday signed a bill making possession of small amounts of cannabis a misdemeanor, according to the Associated Press. Sponsored by Shreveport Rep. Cedric Glover (D), the measure makes up to 14 grams of cannabis flower a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time.

The bill narrowly passed the state Senate in early June and takes effect August 1.

In a statement announcing the signing, Edwards said the bill was part of Louisiana’s “criminal justice reform efforts” and it was not a decision he made lightly.

“In addition to carefully reviewing the bill, I also believe deeply that the state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states, that can ruin lives and destroy families, as well as cost taxpayers greatly.”Edwards via the AP

Glover worked with conservative Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh on the legislation. Seabaugh’s amendments set the penalty parameters outlined in the legislation, the Lafayette Daily Advertiser reports.

“One thing I think we can find common ground on is the belief that the possession of small amounts of marijuana should not lead you to jail or to become a felon,” Glover told the Daily Advertiser.

Although the bill falls short of Louisiana’s attempts to pass broad cannabis legalization, it represents progress in the Deep South state. This session, lawmakers also passed a bill allowing smokable products in the state’s medical cannabis program.