An amended version of a bill that would end Louisiana’s draconian three-strikes law for some marijuana crimes has finally made its way through the house.But it could be a tight squeeze to get the bill through. The Louisiana Senate adjourns next week, leaving little time to have the bill heard, debated and voted on before the politicians leave Baton Rouge for the year.
House Bill 103, which we’ve written about in the past, originally would have capped felony marijuana conviction sentences at five years. That version failed to clear the House floor last week, so authors amended it to make the penalties a little more harsh.
If the new version of the bill passes, a second offense for 60 pounds of marijuana or less would net you up to two years in prison. A third offense would get you five years and fourth (and any subsequent) arrests would get you a maximum of eight years behind bars. The bill also drops the maximum fine in all cases from $5,000 to $2,500.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Austin Badon of New Orleans, the bill could save the state nearly $2.2 million in 2014. “You will see an immediate savings because we are not putting away people for so long,” Badon told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Currently, marijuana penalties in Louisiana are some of the most dated and punative in the country. First-time offenders with any amount under 60 pounds could face up to six months in jail. Get caught a second time and you could face up to five years in jail. A third offense – even for sticks and seeds – could get you 20 years in prison.