NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - April 20, or 4/20, is the day marijuana users openly celebrate their passion for pot, and this year, democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York took to Twitter announcing his changing attitude on the drug and his push to decriminalize it federally.
"This means that federal agents will not be arresting people, trying people for marijuana use," Schumer said in his video post.
His proposal is one of several introduced in Congress in an attempt deschedule marijuana in order to remove it from the U.S. federal Controlled Substances Act. If passed, individual states would determine how to regulate marijuana without federal interference.
"It's long overdue. 63 percent of all Americans are for legalization of marijuana, except the very old," Schumer said.
"I don't think he's really serious. He's just trying to get some votes," security consultant and former DEA agent Harold Patin said.
Patin, who lives in Metairie, is opposed to decriminalization. He argues it would create problems for employers, and he warns about the potential use among young people - especially when the drug is more potent than in the past.
"THC is the intoxicating drug. Back in my early career in the 60s, marijuana around New Orleans was around 1 percent or less THC. If you go to Colorado, it started at 15 and up and maybe 95," he said. "The states that don't do this and try not to do it will have a better chance."
But momentum for expanding marijuana use is growing. On Thursday, the FDA endorsed a medicine made from marijuana to treat severe seizures in children with epilepsy.
Former House speaker John Boehner is now lobbying for a company pushing for recreational marijuana, and 2018 is the first year medical marijuana will be dispensed in Louisiana.
"Marijuana is actually shown to be treating those in opioid addiction. Well, hello. Louisiana has a crisis with that," said Katie Mayers with Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana.
She believes the decriminalization of cannabis is inevitable, but she said it is unlikely Louisiana lawmakers will follow states legalizing recreational use.
"I think Louisiana is going to work to see how that works in other states and see what happens federally before they bite that bullet," Mayers said.
Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational use.