People with misdemeanor possession charges could soon see record expunged with new law
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With Louisiana’s approach to marijuana becoming more lenient year after year, the idea of expunging offenses for simple possession seemed like a no-brainer for some.
In 2021, the governor signed a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession up to 14 grams into law. And with multiple attempts to make the drug legal in the state practically every year, lawmakers saw fit on Wednesday, May 17, to pass HB286 by Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, which would expunge a person’s record if they had a possession charge in the past, which could have prevented them from finding work.
“They’ll now have the ability to go into the workforce and get licensing to be a barber, a hairdresser, to be a realtor even,” said Rep. Boyd.
She originally wanted to expunge all records of possession of 14 grams or less. But after working with both the district attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s Association, it was noted it would be impossible to take that approach.
“Ultimately, this is probably gonna have to just stay misdemeanor convictions of marijuana prior to the Glover change because we did not distinguish weights of marijuana unless it was like several pounds,” explained Loren Lampert with the LDAA.
Currently, the expungement process costs almost $600. This bill would cut that cost in half for marijuana possession charges, another kind of meet-in-the-middle decision between everyone involved. But Rep. Boyd added she wished it could go further.
“You know, in a perfect world, I guess we could say we wanted it to be free, but we were able to streamline the process so people won’t need to hire an attorney to walk them through the steps. It’s just one application page and we’ve minimized the fees,” explained Rep. Boyd
In a rare scene of events, everyone was on the same page with no votes against the proposal. The challenge between now and when this gets taken up next will be to figure out what the final solution to these expungement charges will be. But we’re told the goal is to tailor this specifically to folks who only have one simple possession charge from the past.
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