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420 with CNW — Louisiana Senate Signs Off on Cannabis Expungements Bill, Sends to Governor’s Desk

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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The Louisiana Senate has approved a measure to expunge certain cannabis-related offenses from people’s records and sent the bill to the governor. The new bill will provide a streamlined pipeline that allows people with first-time convictions for cannabis possession to expunge their records.

Most pundits agree that the war on drugs was a failure that led to the incarceration of millions of Americans for relatively minor offenses, and decimated local communities while allowing the criminal institutions behind the illicit drug trade to flourish.

Authorities were especially hard on people of color during the failed drug war and studies now show that Black people were significantly more likely to be arrested and sentenced harshly for cannabis use despite similar use rates with White people.

The majority of states with legal cannabis programs now have expungement laws that allow people with prior cannabis convictions to petition for them to be expunged from their records.

Representative Delisha Boyd introduced the expungement bill in May 2023, and it cleared the House before passing through a key Senate committee. Senate lawmakers then chose to pass the bill via a 32–7 vote before sending it to Governor John Bel Edwards.

If Governor Edwards signs the bill into law, people who were convicted for possessing up to 14 grams of marijuana as their first offense will be able to file a petition at the court to have their records expunged three months after receiving the conviction. Given that current Louisiana law requires that residents wait for five years before they can petition the court to expunge certain records, this bill will significantly expedite the process.

A House committee amended the original version of the cannabis expungement bill to state that only possession cases involving up to 14 grams of cannabis were eligible for expedited expungement.  Furthermore, the committee amended the bill to remove provisions eliminating court-processing fees for eligible Louisiana residents and set a $300 cap on the court fees.

The legislation’s language states that the clerk should send equal shares of court processing fees for first-time cannabis conviction expungements to the district attorney and the sheriff.

The move was met with praise by reform activists in the state. Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) legislative manager Kevin Caldwell said in an interview that the organization is excited to see further advances in cannabis policy in the historically conservative state. He explained that Louisiana has one of the costliest and most complicated expungement processes in the country, with most people who seek expungement being forced to pay at least $550 per incident.

This new expungement bill could allow “tens of thousands of Louisianans” to finally clear their records and live their lives without being held back by a criminal record.

While Louisiana is taking steps to expunge the criminal records of individuals who were convicted for certain marijuana-related crimes, several companies such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) want to make FDA-approved cannabis medicines available to the public to help them in managing or treating some ailments, such as chronic pain. Such medicines wouldn’t come with any risk of facing arrest and incarceration since the formulations would have the required regulatory approvals and patients can get them through their doctors.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC

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