Feeling that lawmakers were ignoring them, marijuana advocates held a rally at the State Capitol last month to gain traction for their chosen issue. Only they did so the weekend after the legislative session ended on June 2 — after lawmakers had gone home and barely anyone was at work in the building — which probably did little to dispel the perception that pot smokers can be forgetful.  

Luckily for them, the Louisiana State Bar Association was meeting in Destin, Fla., at the same time and adopted a resolution backing efforts to classify simple possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. Lawmakers failed to advance similar legislation by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, during the recent session, but this is an early sign that the proposal will likely be back up for debate in 2015.

Kelly Ponder, communications director for the bar, said, “There was a spirited debate and a number of people spoke both for and against the resolution.”

The measure was presented by Robert A. Kutcher and Thomas C. Cerullo, members of the bar from the 24th Judicial District. It also states that “appropriate incremental penalties for habitual offenders” should be included in any model legislation.

Greg Thompson, legal advisor for Louisianans for Responsible Reform, said it’s a major step forward after a session where lawmakers shut down every attempt to reclassify marijuana.

“It goes to show the extent to which the issue is becoming more mainstream and not just a fringe issue,” he said. “There’s a broad coalition forming around these issues.”

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