Louisiana Legislative Committee Approves Framework Bill for Adult-Use Cannabis

The Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee has unanimously advanced House Bill 707, which proposes a regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis in the state. While the bill itself does not legalize recreational cannabis, it lays the groundwork for future legalization efforts.

Introduced by Rep. Edmond Jordan, the bill aims to set up the retail infrastructure for cannabis sales and cultivation. Jordan plans to push for the bill’s passage in 2024, with additional legislation addressing possession and taxation of adult-use cannabis expected in 2025.

During the April 24 meeting, Rep. Jordan explained the bill’s objectives to the committee, highlighting its simplicity and focus on establishing dispensaries and regulatory measures. HB-707 would allow adults over 21 to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis daily and permit residents to grow up to six plants at home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Jordan projected that legalizing adult-use cannabis could generate over $1 billion in tax revenue within a decade, contributing approximately $100 million annually to the state’s general fund.

Kevin Caldwell, Marijuana Policy Project’s southeast legislative manager, presented data from a Vicente law firm economic forecast, indicating that Louisiana has 430,000 potential adult-use cannabis consumers. By 2033, the industry could be valued at $900 million, with the total regulated market from 2024-2033 reaching $5.8 billion. Caldwell emphasized that legalization could be implemented by 2027, with the industry valued at $1.17 billion by 2033. This forecast incorporates Rep. Barbara Freiberg’s proposed 15% excise tax on adult-use cannabis.

The fiscal impact report suggested that the adult-use cannabis industry could generate $13.4 billion between 2027 and 2033. Caldwell also addressed concerns about crime rates, noting that research from legalized states shows no increase in crime associated with cannabis legalization.

The committee adopted 17 amendments to HB-707, including transferring cannabis program management from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to the Louisiana Department of Health. Other amendments removed caps on licenses, changed disqualification criteria for cannabis-related convictions, and eliminated penalties for civil violations.

During the meeting, opposition was voiced regarding potential negative impacts on youth. In response, Rep. Jordan argued for regulation to ensure safety and prevent illicit market issues, such as products laced with fentanyl.

Jordan urged the committee to move the bill forward for further debate and evidence presentation. The committee approved HB-707 with a 10-0 vote.

Cannabis legislation in Louisiana has seen mixed results in recent years. In April 2023, a decriminalization bill failed in committee, but in June 2023, Governor Jeff Landry signed House Bill 286, allowing expungements for previous cannabis possession convictions. The state also opened its 10th medical cannabis dispensary in March 2024.

Additionally, Louisiana police reported in March 2024 that rats had infiltrated confiscated cannabis, consuming a significant amount of the stored flower. According to a police superintendent, the issue was due to the facility’s poor cleanliness, not the fault of janitorial staff.


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