BATON ROUGE, La. -- The crowd in House Committee Room 6 was split by green and red, with a line for filling out 'In Favor' cards and a large stack of opposition cards, mostly untouched.
Tuesday's discussion on the feasibility and effectiveness of legalizing marijuana leaned green because of it.
"It is important for them to give us a safer way to purchase it, that they can regulate and it'll be safer for the public who's going to use it either way," said Jesse Joyner.
"For government to be sort of big brother telling you things that you can't do is a violation of liberty interest,” said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman. “But today, it's really about marijuana sentencing reform and changing the way Louisiana treats something that is so commonplace."
"This is something that needs the attention of people in Louisiana," said state Rep. Dalton Honoré, D-Baton Rouge, who started the talk last year with a bill to study the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.
The conversation included questions regarding health, regulation and incarceration statistics tied to marijuana use and possession in Louisiana today. Statistics from states that have already legalized the drug for recreational and-or medical reasons were also considered. But some stood firm that Louisiana's current strong stance against marijuana,across the board, should stay put.
“The studies show that marijuana is a dangerous drug, you can slice it any way you want," said Charles Scott, district attorney in Caddo Parish and president of Louisiana’s District Attorneys Association. "Thick or thin, it's still bologna. Marijuana is not good for you."
Only one bill has been filed relating to marijuana for the 2014 session so far. That bill, filed by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, addresses limiting criminal punishments tied to the drug. The legislative session starts in March.
A recent Public Policy Poll showed more than half of the state was in favor of legalizing marijuana like Colorado and Washington.