NORML – Louisiana Update: Changes in State’s Cannabis Laws Take Effect

Several laws amending the state’s marijuana policies take effect today.

Among them, House Bill 629 (now Act 473) bars police from conducting a warrantless search of person’s place of residence based solely upon the odor of cannabis. Several other states that have either legalized or decriminalized the use of marijuana by adults have enacted similar prohibitions on police conduct.

Another bill signed into law this past spring, HB 988 (now Act 651), protects qualified patients from discrimination in the workplace. It mandates, “No state employer shall subject an employee or prospective employee to negative employment consequences based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana” if they are a state-registered medical cannabis patient. Twenty-one states and Washington, DC have similarly made it illegal for an employer to not hire or to discriminate against either a job applicant or employee who uses medical marijuana, under certain conditions.

Nearly 30,000 Louisiana residents are registered to participate in the state’s medical cannabis access program.

A third bill, House Bill 775 (Act 499), legalizes any marijuana-related paraphernalia that is “solely used or intended for use for the inhalation of raw or crude marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, or a chemical derivative of tetrahydrocannabinols when the person is a patient of a state-sponsored medical marijuana program.” A fourth bill, HB 137 [Act 439], provides immunity from criminal prosecution to out-of-state medical cannabis patients. (Similar legislation, HB 135 (Act 438), was also signed into law.) Finally, a fifth bill, HB 190 (Act 444), expands the poll of health professional who can issue medical cannabis authorizations to include certain nurse practitioners.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano praised lawmakers for their actions. “These are common sense reforms provide further and sorely needed protections and freedoms for patients and others,” he said. “Lawmakers are to be commended for putting politics aside and taking these important steps forward.”

Additional legislation that also took effect today, House Bill 234 (Act 478) makes it “unlawful for the operator or any passenger in a motor vehicle, while the motor vehicle is being operated on a public highway or right-of-way, to smoke or vape any form of marijuana.” Violators will be subject to a $100 fine. Under the new law, a police officer may only “enforce the provisions of this section as a secondary action when the law enforcement officer detains a driver for another violation.”

Louisiana: Changes in State’s Marijuana Laws Take Effect