Bill To Lessen Marijuana Penalties Nearing Final Passage

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's stringent marijuana laws could be eased under a bill nearing final approval.

         With a 24-13 vote Wednesday, the Senate signed off on the proposal by Rep. Austin Badon, a New Orleans Democrat.

         Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal says he supports the measure, which returns to the House for final consideration.

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         Under the bill, someone caught with less than 14 grams of marijuana would face up to 15 days in jail. For more than 14 grams but less than 2.5 pounds, the punishment would be up to six months in jail.

         A second offense conviction would drop to a misdemeanor with a sentence of no more than six months.

         Third and following convictions would carry felony charges, but with smaller penalties than in current law.

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