Covering Louisiana

Jan 21, 2014 10:30 PM by Alex Labat

Lawmakers Looking into the Legalization of Internet Gambling and Marijuana

The Administration of Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony Tuesday on the legalization of two hot topics in Louisiana...internet gambling and marijuana. The first of those meetings looked at the results of a study into the possibility expanding gambling to include internet gambling within the state.
The results of that study, proposed by Rep. Mike Huval (R-Breaux Bridge), shows that three states have already legalized online gambling, and that experts predict the industry is worth $4 to $6 billion dollars in the U.S. Critics of the measure there are issues with the need for it as an economic driver, and how the law might be enforced. "Let's say that you have a concern where "I lost a $1,000". And we look into it and it was something that happened overseas. How do we enforce that? We're not going to go over there", says Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.
The second topic up for discussion was the examination of legal marijuana use in Louisiana. Even though there was no vote on the legalization of marijuana at the capitol today, there were plenty of people on both sides of the debate who wanted to make their voices heard. "The opinions throughout this state is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing marijuana", says Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge), who requested the hearing. The room was packed with those both for and against the use of legalizing cannabis in the state. The committee heard findings from both medical professionals and law professionals on the dangers of the use of marijuana. "I believe that marijuana is in fact a gateway drug. When you've served in the drug section and you've spent time in the drug court and you've seen addicts come in that are hooked on drugs", says Charles Scott, President of the Louisiana District Attorney's Association.
But they also heard from those who approve it's legalization for medicinal use...or at least the loosing of penalties for using it. "I think we need to realize that our laws are out of sync. They're out of sync with our neighbors and they're out of sync with popular opinion. Certainly it makes sense to consider whether we are treating people far too harshly for an offense that ultimately hurts no one", says Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the Louisiana ACLU. And as the opinion of state police? Col. Edmonson says they're there to enforce whatever the law says is legal.


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