State rep wants voters to decide on legalization of marijuana

State rep wants voters to decide on legalization of marijuana

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Four states across the country have already legalized marijuana. Now, Rep. Dalton Honoré wants to give Louisiana voters the option to decide whether pot should be legal in the state.

"You're an adult. You make that decision for yourself," said Rep. Honoré, D-Baton Rouge.

Honoré said because it's an election-year and in fear of political ramifications, legislators feel they have to vote against the measure.

"Everybody wants to do this, but nobody wants to step forward, and this is why I want to take it to the people to vote," said Rep. Honoré.

Rep. Honoré has pre-filed House Bill 117 to put the measure to a vote. He said Colorado has had great success with legalizing marijuana and hopes Louisiana can be the first state in the south to do the same.

"The studies have shown over the past year that crime has gone down and traffic fatalities have gone down in the state, and Colorado has produced some $44 million from sales and taxes for the State of Colorado," said Rep. Honoré.

Honoré said Louisiana's jails and prisons are already overcrowded and offenders with marijuana possession or distribution add to the problem. The latest statistics from the Louisiana Department of Corrections from June 2013 show there are 1,372 people serving sentences over marijuana possession charges.

"We still have the mentality to put them in jail, lock them up and throw away the key. We incarcerate more persons per thousand than anywhere in the world, in Louisiana," said Rep. Honoré.

If the bill clears this session, it would be put on the November 2016 ballot, which is the presidential election, so he's hoping the issue gets a lot of the young voters out as well.

The 2015 regular legislative session will start on April 13.

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