SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Starting on Monday, police in Louisiana will not be allowed to use the odor of marijuana as probable cause to search a person’s home without a warrant, and smoking or vaping marijuana in a vehicle will be illegal.

Those are just two of several laws passed in this year’s Louisiana Legislative session that are set to go into effect on August 1 related to the regulation of marijuana in the state, which also includes employment protections for state workers who use medical marijuana.

Act 473 prohibits police from using the smell of marijuana coming from a person’s home as probable cause for a search without a warrant.

The number of road fatalities in Louisiana increased dramatically in 2021, which may have spurred lawmakers to support the passage of Act 478. The act prohibits smoking or vaping marijuana in vehicles while on state highways and roadways.

Drivers who violate this law will receive fines and citations for a non-moving violation, which will not affect their driving record.

Act 651 protects state employees or prospective employees who use physician-recommended medical marijuana from employment negative employment consequences based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana or marijuana components such as THC. The law does not prohibit employers from taking negative employment action against employees who use or are impaired while on the job, or those whose primary responsibility is operating or maintaining state vehicles.

Act 651 also does not apply to state employees who work in emergency medical services, law enforcement, public safety, firefighters, or those who work for the horse racing commission.

Act 491 and Act 492 spread regulatory control of medical marijuana to multiple state agencies. Previously, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry regulated the cultivation of medical cannabis. The new law extends certain regulatory duties to the Louisiana Departments of Health, the Department of Revenue, and the Board of Pharmacy.

The Louisiana Department of Health will have the authority to collect fees from contractors involved in therapeutic marijuana production through Act 492.

Act 137 does not relate to marijuana specifically but changes the scope of what is defined as “drug paraphernalia” to exclude fentanyl test strips.

  • Act 137 – Relative to drug paraphernalia, fentanyl drug testing strips exclusion.
  • Act 473 – Marijuana odor, home search probable cause.
  • Act 478 – Prohibits smoking, vaping marijuana in vehicles.
  • Act 491 – Includes more state agencies in the production, medical regulation and licensure for medical marijuana.
  • Act 492 – Provides regulatory control of medical marijuana production to the LDH.
  • Act 651 – Prohibits certain actions to be taken against state employees who have a medical marijuana prescription.

These new laws are in addition to Act 247, passed in 2021, which decriminalized possession of marijuana up to 14 grams imposing fines as opposed to jail time. The New Orleans and Shreveport city councils have also passed ordinances supporting state law.

To learn more about new Louisiana laws, visit legis.la.gov.

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