Jeremy Alford

New laws on pot, prostitution take effect today

by Jeremy Alford

If you were thinking back in May and June that Louisiana’s lawmakers were up to no good, getting very little accomplished in their 2008 regular session, today’s roll-out of 467 new laws should get your attention, although not exactly change your mind.

The hundreds of changes promise to impact citizens from every walk of life – even pot smokers. For instance, Act 150 by Rep. Erich E. Ponti, a Baton Rouge Republican, allows certain employers in the refining and chemical industry to lower the initial cut-off level for marijuana testing. Under previous law (meaning yesterday) drugs tests seeking to pick up ganja couldn’t be set lower than 50 nanograms per milliliter.

Greg Bowser of the Louisiana Chemical Association labels it as a safety precaution, since the proposed guidelines would catch drug-users that are dodging today’s screenings. “You’re allowing employees to be more stringent on their drug testing policies on marijuana than they currently can,” he told lawmakers during the session.

Also, don’t go calling La. Hwy. 385 in Lake Charles La Hwy. 385 anymore. That’s because Act 180 by GOP Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish of Jennings renames the strip the "Wilson Anthony 'Boozoo' Chavis Memorial Highway" in honor of the zydeco legend.

If you plan on bribing a public official any time soon, then you might want to be careful about what you use for payoffs. If you offer up a home or any other property to a public official to gain access or influence, that property can be seized by the government starting today, thanks to Act 269 by Rep. Jonathan W. Perry, an Abbeville Republican. As usual, cash is king.

Any lingering questions about how Louisiana laws should be applied to prostitution violations are being cleared up today as well. In fact, Rep. Lowell C. Hazel, a freshman Republican from Pineville, delved into more detail regarding illegal activities between a hooker and a john with his Act 138 than possibly any other politico before him. As of yesterday, state law generally referred to “sexual intercourse” using only brief illustrations. Hazel’s new law clarifies that "sexual intercourse includes oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.” So now you know.

If you just have to learn more about our new laws, go to and click on “2008 Regular Session Information.” Once on the next page, scroll down and click on “Effective Dates of Acts.”