The Louisiana Senate on Wednesday refused to take up House-passed legislation reducing that would reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana.
A two-thirds vote was required in order to bring House Bill 103 up for debate as the 2013 session winds down. The Senate voted 22-10 to allow the measure to be heard but it was four votes short of the super majority.
HB103 would have lowered both the potential maximum fine and jail time for second and subsequent simple possession of marijuana. In addition, an offender could not be charged under the Habitual Offender Law if they have been convicted on multiple simple possession counts.
For instance, in current law a second offense would yield a fine of between $250 and $2,000, a maximum of five years in prison, or both. Under HB103 a second offense would bring a fine of not more than $500, a maximum two years in prison, or both.
Bill sponsor state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, promoted the legislation as a cost saving measure as fewer people would serve time in jail.
Opponents said the reduction in penalties would send the wrong message about marijuana use in the state.