LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- Louisiana has ended jail time for those who are caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana, even for repeat offenders.
If a person is caught with half of ounce or 14 grams of marijuana, they will face a misdemeanor and a $100 fine.
Pride Doran, an attorney in Opelousas, said that this is a step in the right direction.
“This is huge. This reflects what I believe to be a national trend towards relaxing and changing attitudes about possession of marijuana,” Doran said.
Before August 1, if a person was caught with marijuana on a first offense in Louisiana they would receive a misdemeanor, a $500 fine, and up to six months of jail time.
For repeat offenders, things could have been worse.
“They would be susceptible to being prosecuted as a felon, and of course that can have a domino effect. A person who had the first offense at the age of 18 and a second offense at age 21, now at 21 they’re a felon,” he said.
Now, first and repeat offenders will only be charged with a misdemeanor and a $100 fine each time.
Doran believes this is a win in the judicial system.
“It's now decriminalized. It's not the same as legalization I will emphasize that point, it's a step in the right direction, but, you know, you can use your $100 somewhere else,” he said.
Lance Lansiquot is the co-owner of Lit Smoke Shop. According to Lansiquot, this new law will lift the weight off of minority communities.
“People have jobs and families to support, and you know as a black man when you get locked up and you can't support your family then it puts you in a hole,” Lansiquot said.
Lansiquot said that the next step is to legalize marijuana.
“I mean you can drink alcohol. I mean you can't wake up in the morning, take a shot and go to work. So I mean, I don't see why something should be illegal when there are other things that are legal that's giving you more harm,” he said.
Louisiana joins over 25 other states that have decriminalized marijuana.