Sheriff sounds off on changing marijuana laws days before session

Sheriff sounds off on changing marijuana laws days before session

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "Have we lost any sense of altruism of what's going on in the streets? Come on!" Sheriff Newell Normand said.

Normand didn't hold back when he described the effects that drugs can have on a community.

"Where is the moral compass? I don't see it," Normand said.

He sounded off after showing a video of a drug suspect smoking pot.

Desmond Willis, 25, was killed during a shootout with deputies earlier this week, and Normand expressed strong misgivings about changing Louisiana's marijuana laws.

"We're going to legalize and decriminalize possession, but guess what? The transaction and the sale is still illegal. The profit motive is still there. The havoc that it will wreak on our streets will be insurmountable," Normand said.

A bill by Rep. Dalton Honore of Baton Rouge would create a proposition to legalize marijuana across the board.

"You're an adult. You make that decision for yourself," Honore said.

Honore wants Louisiana voters to decide if marijuana should be legalized.

"Everybody wants to do this, but nobody wants to step forward, and this is why I want to take it to the people to vote," Honore said.

Two additional bills would not legalize marijuana, but would instead amend the penalties for possession of the drug. Rep. Austin Badon authored House Bill 149.

"You have people who are taken from their families and put in jail for simple possession, and we're not talking about the pushers or the dealers. We're talking about simple marijuana use for their own personal consumption," Badon said.

Badon said right now, a third conviction for marijuana possession could land someone in jail for 20 years.

"My bill would drop it down to five years, and it still gives the judges and DA discretion," Badon said.

Badon said he'll never condone the use of marijuana, but he believes amending the penalties will save tax payers money and allow those convicted to get the help they need to quit.

A recent survey by LSU researchers found that 67 percent of Louisiana residents say people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not serve jail time.

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