Marijuana legalization in Louisiana gets Rise in public support:’The Wave is Shifting’ – The Advocate


A former reserve deputy in East Baton Rouge Parish, he knew law enforcement has concerns with the notion. But one thing that helped influence McKnight to vote for the bill making him one of three Republicans to deliver the suggestion from committee and on to the full House for discussion in a historic vote — has been public comment.

“I have not got a negative mail or call. I have gotten a great piece of positive emails,” McKnight said. “The wave is changing on this.”

Several polls completed this past year on the issue of legalizing marijuana underscore that fact, and they have contributed the longshot movement surprising strength. A few lawmakers around the fence have contributed to the reality they have only received positive messages from constituents about the issue. Several pollsters said that they expect that drumbeat of aid only get louder in the coming years since Louisiana catches up with the rest of the country, which backs legalization.

He was already putting the effort in motion when John Couvillon, the Baton Rouge pollster, published the results of a poll that found 67 percent of Louisianans favor legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana.

Couvillon’s poll, which was paid for by the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives, a medical marijuana business group, captured many lawmakers’ eyes. Last calendar year, Couvillon had discovered 54% support for exactly the identical legalization issue; the new survey discovered that 58% of Republicans support legalization.

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This was a significant finding, because conservatives around the U.S. are slower to embrace legal weed than liberals. Louisiana hunted for former President Donald Trump by an 18-point margin in 2020; two-thirds of state senators and almost two-thirds of state representatives are Republicans.

“I think that it’s one of those things where people opinion is leaving politicians supporting,” Nelson explained.

Another recent poll, from the University of New Orleans Survey Research Centerthat wasn’t quite as bullish on recreational pot as Couvillon’s. However, it found legalization of those recreational use of marijuana had 55% service total, with 36 percent compared and 9% undecided. The survey found Democrats were far more inclined to support it, at 66%, than Republicans, in 44 percent.

“I believe public opinion here’s catching up to comment on the matter nationally,” explained Ed Chervenak, the political scientist who ran the survey.

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People in Louisiana are visiting different countries cashing in on the crop, Chervenak explained, and the generational divides often seen cultural problems are tilting toward legalization, with younger people strongly favoring it. He expects the trend to continue.

“I really don’t understand the way the legislators are going to respond to this,” Chervenak explained. “That is a conservative state. We’ll have to wait and see just how far this moves along from the Legislature.”

While legalizing marijuana was a priority of Democratic lawmakers in the last several years, the concept is recently gaining pubic steam. Three Republicans voted for this in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee a week. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by the Koch brothers, has gotten on board.

James Lee, say manager of the group, said it’s commissioning more surveys from the districts of eight conservative House members.

Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, a Houma Republican in a district where three of every four votes moved to Trump at 2020, commissioned a poll specific for his district. Developed by Couvillion, the survey found 77% support for allowing marijuana for recreational usage.

“I believe you have basically a generational shift that’s occurred,” Couvillon explained. “People who may have been affected from the’just say no’ campaign by Nancy Reagan and adverse messaging about marijuana before that… that creation is steadily dying off. And it is being replaced with a generation that is not quite certain why it is illegal.”

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The proposition has also gained resistance from the powerful relationships representing sheriffs and district attorneys.

Mike Ranatza, the mind of the Louisiana Sheriffs Association, said he would like to study the issue for a year before considering legalization, cautioning against a”rush to judgment.”

“I need to clearly attest to everyone that we’re amenable to looking in to this matter,” he explained in an interview. “We should do an comprehensive look at what that road needs to look like.”

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Meaning 43% of U.S. adults currently reside in a spot that has the drug for recreational usage, according to the Pew Research Center.

Significantly, however, none of the 17 countries is from the Deep South, although several nations in the area have legalized medical marijuana, including Louisiana.

A substantial amount of Republicans would want to support legalization from Louisiana for its attempt to accomplish the governor’s desk. If by a miracle that comes to pass, term limits — which have ushered in an entirely new generation of lawmakers — could be part of the reason. Polling has consistently shown younger individuals are a lot more inclined to support legalization.

Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, of Hammond, was among the three Republicans to vote for Nelson’s bill . He explained the thing that really”drove home” was the Louisiana Sheriffs Association and Louisiana District Attorneys Association — two important opponents of the law — both conceded the drug could be legal eventually.

“That which drove my choice is I think the simple fact that it is coming. It’s gont occur,” Muscarello explained. “I hate being the last in line each time. If we could provide a service to our nation that is going to drive some tax income, and why not do it?”

Muscarello, who is 46, said there were more”seasoned” legislators conducting the series years ago, when he was a legislative aide for former lawmaker John Hainkel, a powerful New Orleans Republican. In the three years Muscarello was a lawmaker himself, he said he thinks there are more”forward-thinking” lawmakers that are”more competitive in the way we approach things.”

Rep. Joe Stagni, a Kenner Republican, said he has not made up his mind yet, but added that he’s leaning toward voting for the bill. He awakened the drug’s illegal status into the U.S.’s disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition, and noted none of the states that have resisted recreational use of marijuana’ve gone and criminalized it .

He, too, considers term limitations are having a direct impact on topics like marijuana. To get some of his former coworkers,”this would not have been a consideration,” Stagni explained.

“It’ll occur,” Stagni explained. “The issue for everyone is, is it’s going to happen now or is it going to happen later?”

Andrew Freedman, who had been hired in 2014 from Colorado’s then-Gov. John Hickenlooper are the very first cannabis czar to implement the very first adult-use marijuana market, said the issue proved to be a divisive one when it arrived before voters in 2012. This year, voters approved the ballot proposal to legalize the drug, 54.8% to 45.1%.

Freedman now pushes up the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation, which he said has been started with the assumption that legalization is inescapable in the U.S.. The group does not take a position on whether states need to legalize the medication, and rather aims to advance a federal regulatory framework for cannabis.

Since 2012, Freedman said remarks in Colorado have inched steadily toward the thought that legalization was a great move. The resistance isn’t so passionate anymore.

Most of the other nations that have legalized marijuana from the ensuing years have completed through ballot referendums.

Legislatures might be timid because legalization is complicated, Freedman explained. At the ballot box, voters are confronted with a straightforward yes-or-no question. Lawmakers have to reply”a million questions right off the bat.” For example: How can you manage people driving ? Just how much control if local governments have over marijuana being grown or sold in their garden? Should the nation strive to prioritize permits for minorities?

“Even if it’s popular, but it is divisive, it is still a pricey issue to vote for,” Freedman said. “Sometimes not taking a vote is the simplest path to take.”


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