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Lawmakers consider marijuana reform

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MONROE, LA. (KNOE 8 News)- It's been a hot topic across the country and after two other states havelegalized marijuana, reform is once again scheduled to be discussed in BatonRouge.

Currently, there are sevenbills on the table dealing with marijuana this legislative session.

Four bills would lessenthe penalties for marijuana use and remove those convictions from the habitualoffenders' law. One bill would change the drug from a Schedule I to a ScheduleII. Two others would legalize marijuana for medical use.

But Senator Bob Kostelkasaid that's a slippery slope.

"It's hard to reallycontrol marijuana once you start legalizing it for any purpose. We've alwayshad a law here that doctors can prescribe the ingredients of marijuana, butthis law would now set up marijuana farms in each of the congressional districts,"Kostelka said.  

The state's black caucussupports lessening penalties for marijuana possession.

Representative Marcus Hunter said it's nottheir goal to legalize marijuana for any reason.

"We believe just likeother parties and other persons believe that there should be fairness andequality in sentencing and guidelines as well. And there is no fairness andequality in sentencing relative to marijuana possession," Hunter said.    

The issue gained moreattention Thursday when a Monroe man was arrested for extortion.

Roy Green allegedlythreatened a Louisiana representative's livelihood if the lawmaker did notsupport marijuana reform.

But whether penalties arereduced or prescriptions are handed out, it looks like the marijuana debate ishere to stay.

Twenty states allowmedical marijuana use. Colorado and Washington allow recreational use and Coloradocashed out with 1.4-million dollars in tax revenue for the first monthmarijuana was legal.

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