Bill Reducing Sentences For Pot Possession Clears LA House

BATON ROUGE (AP) — With the narrowest of votes, the Louisiana House voted to lower the maximum sentence for repeat marijuana possession from 20 years to eight years.

         The bill by Rep. Austin Badon, a New Orleans Democrat, moved to the Senate with a 53-36 vote. That was the minimum support needed to pass.

         Law enforcement associations don't oppose the bill, but Badon called it a tough vote because lawmakers could appear soft on crime in an election year.

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         The bill retains a six-month sentence for a first offense. But prison time for a second offense would drop from five to two years. A third conviction — which currently carries a 20-year maximum — would drop to a five-year maximum. A fourth conviction would have an 8-year sentence cap.

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