NEW ORLEANS —A majority of Louisiana voters oppose long sentences for marijuana possession, according to a poll conducted on September 22-23, 2014 by Public Policy Polling. Seventy-eight percent oppose sentences of longer than six months for marijuana possession even for someone who has prior marijuana convictions. Seventy-one percent oppose life sentences for marijuana possession even for people with other prior felonies, as currently permitted under Louisiana law And two-thirds acknowledge knowing someone who has ever been in possession of marijuana, showing that marijuana possession is common and unremarkable in today’s world.
"Louisiana residents don’t want to waste their money criminalizing people for minor infractions like marijuana possession,” said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "It’s clear that public opinion favors significant changes to our laws on marijuana possession, which currently are among the harshest in the nation. Louisiana voters want our laws to better reflect the realities of their lives and their values, and that means we must end our harsh marijuana sentences.”
Public Policy Polling surveyed a representative sampling of Louisiana registered voters to update information on Louisianians’ views on medical marijuana and reforming marijuana sentencing laws. The survey shows that 68% support letting certain seriously ill patients use medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. Fifty-nine percent oppose jail time for first-time possession of marijuana, and only 34% of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed marijuana reform.
The ACLU of Louisiana has backed legislation seeking significant reform of our marijuana laws during the past two legislative sessions and will continue to work for changes that better reflect the values of the people of Louisiana. “This poll confirms what we already knew: Louisiana voters are ready to change our outdated and overly harsh marijuana sentencing laws ,” said Esman. “We are ready to work with our legislators to effect the change that people are asking for.”
The complete survey results can be found here.