BATON ROUGE, La. — With the narrowest of votes, the Louisiana House approved lowering the maximum sentence for repeat marijuana possession from 20 years to eight years.
The bill by Rep. Austin Badon, a New Orleans Democrat, moved to the Senate with a 53-36 vote Wednesday. That was the minimum support needed to pass.
A 13-year sentence for two joints: Discussions about reducing sentences in Louisiana often mention the court case of Bernard W. Noble, who was sentenced to more than 13 years after he was arrested for having two joints.
Law enforcement associations don’t oppose the bill, but Badon called it a tough vote because lawmakers could appear soft on crime in an election year.
The bill retains a six-month sentence for a first offense. But prison time for a second offense would drop from five to two years. A third conviction — which currently carries a 20-year maximum — would drop to a five-year maximum. A fourth conviction would have an 8-year sentence cap.
Online: House Bill 149