Bill that will decriminalize the possession and use of drug paraphernalia moves forward

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By Jordyn Wilson. LSU Manship School News Service


BATON ROUGE–The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday approved an amended version of a House bill that would decriminalize the possession and use of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes and bongs, by making it a civil offense punishable by a fine but no jail time.

The Senate voted 24-14 to approve House Bill 165 after raising the proposed fines for repeat offenses. It sent the bill back to the House for concurrence with the changes.

“This is a common-sense bill,” said Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, who presented the bill in the Senate. “Currently, the possession of marijuana is less of a penalty than marijuana paraphernalia.”


The bill, written by Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, would reduce some of the fines and eliminate jail time for first and subsequent offenses for possessing marijuana paraphernalia.

Under existing law, a first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and up to 15 days in jail, or both; a second offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months; a third offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for up to two years.

Under the amended version of the new bill, the fines would be $100 for a first offense, $500 for a second and $2,500 for a third, with no jail time for any of them.


House Bill 165 is in line with legislative efforts nationwide to reduce punishments for marijuana-related offenses.

“I’m glad you brought this back up,” said Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek. “It baffled me that the fine for paraphernalia is more than the fine for the actual drug.”