Drug prosecutors call Senate bill 323 an effort to decriminalize marijuana, but proponents call it relief for a punishment that doesn't fit the crime.
Louisiana Sen. Robert Adley said America is filling its prisons with non-violent offenders because of the current law regarding pot. Adley co-authored the bill and said simple possession should be a misdemeanor, not a felony.
Caddo Parish drug prosecutors said Adley's position is based on inaccurate information, and it's simply not true that prisons are full of casual pot smokers.
"The ACLU has put out some information a few weeks ago saying there's about 900 to 1,000 people serving life for possession of marijuana, and that's just not accurate," said Cloyce Clark, assistant DA for Caddo Parish.
Clark and fellow drug court prosecutor Jason Brown said they're not interested in going after the casual user, and many times those offenders are given pre-trial diversions, probation or misdemeanors. They said they use the current law as a tool to go after the violent offenders with possession charges. And if that law changes, they will not be as effective going after those offenders.
"If all you're doing is smoking pot, you have no prior violent felony, or violent arrests, we're probably going to give you a misdemeanor anyway," Clark said.
SB 323 is set to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning. Clark, Brown and members of the Louisiana DA's Association will go to the hearing to fight the proposed bill.
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