State Council Approves St. Tammany DA-Written Resolution Opposing Recreational Weed Legalization

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — The governor’s Drug Policy Board recently approved a resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana, drafted by the St. Tammany District Attorney and Washington Parish. Marijuana supporters said the resolution was unsurprising and unsupported by reality.

The resolution calls on Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to oppose any legislation that causes Louisiana to legalize recreational weed.

“The state of Louisiana needs to be very aware of what those costs are before it takes the step of legalizing marijuana,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “The resolution cites a number of studies, many of those studies that have been produced that we didn’t have as recently as five years ago.”

Montgomery said the legalization of recreational marijuana in other states years ago allowed time to conduct studies that showed the negative effects of marijuana legalization.

“It will have various negative impacts on education, mental health, crime and other aspects, road safety,” he said.

But opponents, or rather proponents of recreational marijuana, dispute that those who vocally oppose its legalization are selecting studies to support their point of view.

“You know there’s lies, fucking lies and statistics,” said Mandeville State Rep. Richard Nelson, a Republican who last year introduced a bill to legalize the recreational marijuana that has not progressed.

“I mean, that’s what they do. If you have a position, they only choose studies from 2014 that support their position, which I understand,” Nelson said. “At the same time, I can pick out a million studies that don’t [support legalization]and I think the most compelling studies of all those states that have legalized it is that none of them have backtracked.

As of Friday, no marijuana bills had been pre-filed ahead of this year’s legislative session which begins in March.

The Administrative Committee on Criminal Justice will study marijuana policy this session, and what the impacts of legalizing it would be.

Already, patients in Louisiana can get a prescription for medical marijuana. Earlier this month, it became legal for dispensaries to sell the flower form of marijuana.

“Demand is still very, very high, but we’re able to get people in and out in a pretty reasonable time frame,” said Ruston Henry, owner and pharmacist at H&W Pharmacy.

Meanwhile, advocates said this session they expect bills to be introduced increasing the cap on pharmacies and producers in the state.

“The fact is, Louisiana patients could be better served by having more producers, more pharmacies,” said Kevin Caldwell, Southeast Legislative Director for Marijuana Policy Project. “We would like to see more of a structure with fewer caps, or if possible no cap on the number of growers, just to create competition that would hopefully reduce some of the flower prices for patients in the state.”

Caldwell said his group is looking at other southern states, like Arkansas, which has eight producers but about a million fewer people.

Louisiana has two producers and nine licensed pharmacies in the state.

“And the prices in Arkansas are significantly cheaper than what we’re seeing right now in the Louisiana program,” Caldwell said.

Henry said he was against what he calls putting the cart before the horse, that the state should continue with its program as is. If, on the road, the demand increases, the ceilings can increase.

“Let’s settle down to see how they’re meeting demand right now,” he said.

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