NEW ORLEANS - Council President Helena Moreno filed a resolution with five coauthors in support of efforts in the state legislature to decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana in Louisiana. Moreno supported such efforts as a legislator and has continued advocacy around decriminalization since becoming a New Orleans City Councilmember.
According to the Tax Foundation 16 states and Washington, DC have legalized recreational marijuana. Twelve states impose taxes. Legislation in Louisiana has been filed by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers showing the growing support for legalization.
“This is just common sense at this point, from criminal justice reform to job creation to funding critical needs,” said Moreno. “It addresses a fundamental source of racial and economic inequity in our criminal justice system. Public support for decriminalization is finally catching up to the truth: black and brown communities bear the brunt of marijuana enforcement, disrupting lives and reinforcing existing biases while failing to make any appreciable effect on public safety. And because of this reality, the taxation piece must be a thoughtful one. Investment in communities of color must be prioritized. On the job front, hundreds of thousands of full-time jobs have been created in states with legalization. The Cannabis job market is made up of all types of workers, half of whom are paid over $50K annually according to recent reports. Let’s do this, the time is now.”
Recent public polling has shown expansive support for decriminalization in Louisiana, resulting in bipartisan support for decriminalization. A recent study showed Black individuals are 3.4 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana, despite comparable national marijuana usage rates. Louisiana was among 17 states where arrests for marijuana possession increased from 2010 to 2018, with arrests increasing by more than 18.1% over that period.
Statewide polling has shown that 68% of respondents noted that they did not believe that using and/or possessing marijuana should be illegal (a rise from 59% in a similar 2020 poll); When asked if instead of criminal penalties for marijuana possession, an individual only had to pay a fine, only 27% of respondents would prefer modification to marijuana laws instead of full legalization of marijuana.
Moreno’s resolution specifically supports HB243 by Candace Newell. The legislative session begins this coming week.
Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno