The debate over marijuana is a major issue in the Louisiana Legislature right now. A bill to decriminalize pot — basically, to get rid of jail sentences for posessing small amounts — has gotten significant support. And a bill to fully legalize it made it out of committee for the first time ever, though it faces long odds of really passing this year.
We asked our Power Poll members — leaders and insiders in the Baton Rouge area what they thought of the debate. Here's what they said:
Strong support: There's pretty strong support for full legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. More than three-quarters of our respondents said Louisiana should "legalize it now," while 23 percent said "don't legalize it." Interestingly, none of our respondents answered "Legalize it eventually, but we need more time to study the implications" — that's the argument a lot of public officials make when they oppose legalization.
The odds are good: Most of our insiders think full legalization is going to happen sometime within the next five years. That means a few people support it but don't think it's going to happen — but not many.
No opposition to medical marijuana: Regardless of what people think of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, pretty much everybody supports marijuana for medical purposes. In fact, our respondents overwhelmingly felt that it should not just be legal, but available for a wide variety of conditions.
Thanks to our participants for weighing in!