Louisiana has long been seen as one of the states least likely to take significant strides toward legalizing marijuana.
But breaking reports coming out of The Pelican State today reveal that lawmakers there may actually be discussing that very thing.
According to these early reports, much of the potential discussion about legalizing marijuana are centered around concerns regarding the state’s budget. In particular, Louisiana lawmakers are urgently trying to figure out how to address an $850 million budget shortfall.
Some have proposed raising taxes, others have proposed implementing even deeper reductions, and others still have pointed to legalizing cannabis as a potentially effective way to fill that gap.
Den-A Tiberius, who owns an herbal remedy shop in New Orleans called The Herb Import Company has spent significant time working with and studying the legal cannabis industry in Colorado.
He and other proponents of legalizing marijuana see Colorado as a model for how new cannabis laws could look in Louisiana.
” funds mental health care, education, drug eduction, you name it.”
“And show the practicality and responsibility behind using cannabis, instead of demonizing it and putting people in jail, which we cannot afford to do anymore.”
But not everyone in the state sees it that way.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser told reporters that he thinks it would be particularly damaging and ineffective if the state decided to legalize marijuana solely as a way to raise additional tax revenues.
This isn’t the first time the idea of legalizing cannabis has been floated through the Louisiana legislature.
Last year, a proposal to move in that direction was condemned by many of the state’s highest ranking law enforcement officials.
In 2015, Colorado’s legal marijuana market generated just shy of $1 billion in total sales, bringing in more than $135 million in marijuana taxes. Of that amount, the state devoted $35 million to school construction projects.
For now, Tiberius and the rest of Louisiana’s pro-marijuana community will have to wait and see if those numbers are large enough to convince lawmakers to pursue a path toward legalization.
In the meantime, Nungesser said the topic of legalization should be left up to law enforcement agencies, and added that legalizing marijuana through legislation remains unlikely.
(Photo Credit: The Times-Picayune)