I am a Louisiana voter. I am aware that the great State of Louisiana currently faces a budget shortfall of $800 million next fiscal year. This is a huge deficit that will require tough decisions and real statesmanship to resolve. I become increasingly optimistic when I hear state leaders declare that “everything is on the table.” This is why I implore you to legalize and tax marijuana, for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

The current marijuana law – Act No. 261 (SB143) – enacted in the 2015 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, while a step in the right direction, lacks the ability to bring aid to those suffering now. For example, it does not address which entity will be responsible for converting the product from a raw plant into a legally acceptable method of ingestion. Though medical marijuana is already legal in our state, we are still left with what amounts to a non-working law, as no one is currently benefitting from medicinal use.

Louisiana needs legislation that will effectively legalize and tax marijuana, the largest cash crop in the U.S., in a way that is responsible, safe, and business-friendly. We have a dire need for the type of economic diversity that can succeed when energy markets fluctuate, as they tend to do. We need to create jobs and commerce that will encourage our hard-working and capable citizens to unleash the productive capital of our state. Louisiana has a robust tourism and agricultural heritage that we should embrace, allowing us to quickly capitalize on the commercial potential that is just within our reach.

Louisiana has a bright future. We, as a united Louisiana, maintain our rich history of having a long-term, progressive mindset. As my representative and my legislator, I humbly ask you again, before you cut my services and raise my taxes, please let us truly put everything on the table. Give Louisiana the freedom to prosper.

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