BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Gov. John Bel Edwards said he has signed legislation that reduces penalties for Louisiana residents caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Edwards was clear in his assertion that he has not “decriminalized marijuana” while also signaling support for continuing to change the state’s incarceration laws.

“I have signed HB 652, which contrary to the narrative developed in the press and elsewhere, does not decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, 14 grams or less,” said Edwards in a press release this morning. “Instead, anyone convicted of this crime will now be subject to a maximum penalty of $100 instead of being exposed to parish prison time. This is not a decision I took lightly. In addition to carefully reviewing the bill, I also believe deeply that the state of Louisiana should no longer incarcerate people for minor legal infractions, especially those that are legal in many states, that can ruin lives and destroy families, as well as cost taxpayers greatly. This measure passed Louisiana’s Legislature with bipartisan support following a robust discussion of the toll of over incarceration on our people and our state. Taking this action is another step forward for Louisiana’s criminal justice reform efforts.”

House Bill 652 was introduced by Dist. 4 State Rep. Cedric Glover (D-Shreveport). The bill as passed lowers the fine from $300 and removes stipulations that those caught with 14 grams or less go to jail for up to 15 days.

The law keeps current punishments for second-, third- and fourth-offense convictions for those caught with more than 14 grams, as follows:

  • Second offense: Fine up to $1,000, parish jail time up to six months (or both).
  • Third offense: Fine up to $2,500, imprisonment with or without hard labor for not more than two years.
  • Fourth offense: Fine up to $5,000, imprisonment with or without hard labor for not more than eight years.