Marijuana Laws in Louisiana:
On May 19, 2016, Louisiana Senate Bill 271 was signed into law. It was an amendment to the original medical marijuana bill for the state. The original bill allowed for physicians to “prescribe” cannabis to patients. In the amended SB 271, the Louisiana medical marijuana law now says that physicians are permitted to “recommend” cannabis to patients with qualifying medical conditions.
However, the National Conference of State Legislature does not recognize Louisiana as a state with a legal medical cannabis program. This is due to omissions and oversights on SB 271. Under the current law, patients must buy cannabis in approved forms, which does not include raw forms or inhaled forms. Yet, the state still does not provide legal ways for qualifying patients to actually access medical marijuana in any form.
Possessing Marijuana in Louisiana
The current Louisiana medical marijuana law does not allow for the use of raw cannabis plant. Therefore, possession of the plant is a crime in this state. These are the state penalties for possessing marijuana for personal use in Louisiana:
- Under 14 grams (first-time offenders) = Fine up to $300 and/or up to 15 days in jail
- Between 14 grams and 2 ½ pounds (first-time offenders) = Fine up to $500 and/or up to 6 months in jail
- Under 2 ½ pounds (second offense) = Fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail
- Under 2 ½ pounds (third offense) = Fine up to $2,500 and/or up to 2 years in jail
- Under 2 ½ pounds (fourth offense) = Fine up to $5,000 and/or up to 8 years in prison
- Between 2 ½ to 60 pounds = Fine up to $30,000 and mandatory minimum sentence of 2 to up to 10 years in prison
- Between 60 to 2,000 pounds = Felony: Fine between $50,000 to $100,000 and mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to 30 years in prison
- Between 2,000 to 10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine between $100,000 to $400,000 and mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to up to 40 years in prison
- Over 10,000 pounds = Felony: Prison sentence of mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to up to 40 years
- Within 2,000 feet of drug-free zone = Prison sentence 1 ½ times that allowed for the underlying offense
Note: Louisiana requires offenders to go through a 2-year “cleansing period” before being considered first-time offenders again. This is only allowed once.
Hash & Concentrates
The State of Louisiana classifies Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) and plant-form cannabis as Schedule I controlled substances. State lawmakers include marijuana concentrates and hashish in this same category. Penalties for possessing these cannabis derivatives are the same as those for possession of plant-form cannabis.
Selling Marijuana in Louisiana
Under Louisiana state law, the distribution of cannabis is the same as possession of cannabis with intent to distribute it. The state also lumps distributing and cultivating marijuana into the same category. Penalties for distribution and cultivation are as follows:
- First-time offenses = Fine up to $50,000 and mandatory minimum sentence of 5 to 30 years in prison
- Subsequent drug offenses = Fine up to $100,000 and mandatory minimum sentence of 10 to 60 years in prison
- Adult distributes to minor 3+ years younger (first offenses) = Mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to 45 years in prison
- Adult distributes to minor 3+ years younger (subsequent offenses) = Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to up to 90 years in prison
- Distribute to student in elementary, middle school, high school (first offenses) = Up to 45 years in prison (court may impose additional fine up to $100,000)
- Distribute to student in elementary, middle school, high school (first offenses) = Up to 90 years in prison (court may impose additional fine up to $200,000)
- Soliciting minor to distribute (first offenses) = Fine up to $100,000 and 45 years in prison
Growing and Manufacturing Marijuana in Louisiana
After Senate Bill 271 was enacted, Southern University and Louisiana State University were given first rights to become licensed marijuana production facilities for the state. Lawmakers are still waiting to see if the universities will accept the licenses or exercise their “right to refusal.” If they decline to become legal medical marijuana cultivators, the state will then allow private sectors to apply to become legal medical cannabis growers in the state of Louisiana.
Using Marijuana in Louisiana
SB 271 allows physicians in Louisiana to give qualifying patients recommendations for medical marijuana. These patients must have one or more of the following qualifying medical conditions:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spasticity and severe muscle spasms
However, Louisiana state law bans the use, cultivation, sales or possession of the plant or raw form of cannabis. According to the statute, medical marijuana patients may buy approved forms. Yet, the state still has not provided qualifying patients with ways to obtain any form of marijuana whatsoever.
Breaking the Marijuana Laws in Louisiana
Most marijuana offenses in the State of Louisiana come with mandatory minimum sentences. That means that the defendant must be sentenced to no less than the mandatory minimum for that crime. These prisoners are not eligible for parole until the mandatory minimums have been completed.
Louisiana’s tax stamp law requires anyone in possession of cannabis to buy a stamp from the state. It must be affixed to the contraband by law. Failing to do so will resort in civil penalties of 200% times the tax stamp rate (no more than $10,000) and/or criminal penalties of 5 years in prison. The state’s current tax stamp rate is $3.50 per gram if it involves more than 42 ½ grams.
Marijuana legislation can be complicated, but Jenny Bloom is always up for the task. Although not a lawyer, her experience as a reporter and PR specialist helps her understand legalese – especially when it relates to growing marijuana. A passionate supporter of legalization and home... [read more]