Press Release: Why Did Pro-Reform Senator Vote Against ... Well ... Reform?

Louisianans for Responsible Reform

For Immediate Release

Thursday, April 24, 2014


While mostly AWOL and completely silent until moving to kill SB 323 in the Senate Judiciary C committee on Tuesday, Sen. Elbert Guillory finally decided yesterday to explain his opposition to the very marijuana sentencing reform he has long advocated:

Guillory told LaPolitics that "he was unhappy with how the legislation could have possibly allowed an individual to receive limitless misdemeanors for possession of an ounce or less. "For 20 years I have been saying we need to change marijuana policy and I still feel that way. That bill was not the correct vehicle to make changes," he said. "That individual, who can keep getting misdemeanors, has a major problem that is not being addresses by the system."

Yet just last year, Guillory said he would go further than SB 323 and support full "decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana."

See his comments in a Jan. 3, 2013 article in the Opelousas Daily World:

Guillory, a criminal lawyer for 42 years, said he's personally seen the amount of "taxpayer dollars and human capital" wasted on fighting and prosecuting marijuana use. He said he would support decriminalization of small amounts of the drug. On top of tax dollar expenditure, Guillory said it would help alleviate prison congestion and save people from charge-related restrictions, like loan applications.

SB323 would've made a difference, but Guillory succumbed to pressure from ... well, who, exactly?

Brian Welsh, Executive Director of Louisianans for Responsible Reform summed up Guillory's attempt to justify his vote in one word: sad.

"It's just a sad day when someone who has been advocating for something for 20 years gets exactly what he's been looking for and then takes a powder," Welsh said. "Sen. Guillory has been a consistent advocate for reforming marijuana possession laws to help the families and children of those who get slapped with the felony tag. And on Tuesday, for some reason, he took a dive.

"While Sen. Robert Adley was bravely talking about his first-hand experience seeing the effects of turning a regular person into a felon through our current laws, Guillory was not even in the room," Welsh said.

Had he been there, Guillory may have been able to echo Adley's sentiments with what he told KATC news just two months ago February.

"Once you get a conviction or two, your life is pretty much over with respect to access to universities and access to good jobs," Guillory said.

"There are no two ways about it," Welsh said. "Sen. Guillory supported this bill but he took a dive, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out it had something to do with all those sheriffs in the room.

"Just what did Sen. Guillory get for selling out the taxpayers of Louisiana, who stood to save $23 million a year - money that could've been put into treatment programs, probationary efforts or even help fund the retirement system, as he has proposed himself in pending legislation? What did he get for turning his back on that 22-year-old who's about to have his life ruined over a couple of joints, or the child who has now lost a father and a provider for 20 years? What did he get for turning his back on the African-American community who are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites?

"These are the answers Sen. Guillory owes us all." Welsh said.