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Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
Email: aharris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @antwanharris

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- State lawmakers will take a look at an issue that's made news around the country in recent weeks, the legalization of marijuana.

Tuesday afternoon, a House Criminal Justice Committee will meet at the state capitol to look at the possibility of making the possession and use of pot legal in the state of Louisiana, as well as the possibility of decreasing fines and time in jail.

While the use and sale of marijuana is illegal under federal law, several states have legalized the sale of the drug in recent years. This legalization has caused the attitude towards the federally illegal drug to shift in the United States because lawmakers are now looking at legalizing it as a way make tax dollars for the state.

In Louisiana, the battle to legalize marijuana has been sort of one-sided, as the state is known for having some the stiffest penalties in the United States. Getting caught with a small amount of marijuana could lead to a hefty fine and six months in jail.

The ACLU released a study last year saying the stiff penalties were racially motivated and the state needs to consider new laws.

State Representative Austin Badon first introduced House Bill 103 last year, in hopes to reduce the penalties, but the bill did not make it past the Senate. This year, Badon has plans to once again introduce similar legislation.

Most recently lawmakers nationwide are speaking out about the controversy and are claiming the medical qualities of marijuana are helpful, some arguing that marijuana is not as bad for human health as alcohol.

Louisiana state lawmakers will discuss the 'feasibility and effectiveness' of legalizing marijuana in Louisiana at a committee later Tuesday. The meeting is open to the public.

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