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Understanding the Louisiana Marijuana Laws

Marijuana has been in the news a lot recently as many states have begun to decriminalize possession, permit medical marijuana, or even go as far as to legalize it (like Colorado and Washington).

The Louisiana marijuana laws have been no stranger to media coverage. Earlier this year, a bill that would have allowed for a medical marijuana industry in Louisiana failed to make it out of a senate committee.  Then, over the summer, the Louisiana State Bar Association passed a resolution to support reduced sentences for marijuana possession, even for repeat offenders.

Despite these attempts at changing the law, the Louisiana marijuana laws still carry harsh penalties for possession and distribution.

Louisiana Marijuana Laws on Possession

Punishment for possession depends on your criminal record and the amount of marijuana you possess.

If you possess less than 60 pounds of marijuana and it’s your:

  • First Offense: misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum of a $500 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1))
  • Second Offense: felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $250 to $2,500 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(E)(2)(a))
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses: felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a maximum of a $5,000 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(E)(3))

If you’ve been convicted of a previous drug possession or distribution offense, even if it was for some other drug, it may count as a prior offense.  (La. R.S. 40:966(E)(4) and (E)(5))

If you possess more than 60 pounds:

  • 60 to 1,999 Pounds: felony punishable by 5 to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 to $100,000 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(F)(1))
  • 2,000 to 9,999 Pounds: felony punishable by 10 to 40 years in jail and a $100,000 to $400,000 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(F)(2))
  • 10,000 Pounds or More: felony punishable by 25 to 40 years in jail and a $400,000 to $1,000,000 fine (La. R.S. 40:966(F)(3))

Louisiana Marijuana Laws on Distribution 

Distribution and possession with intent to distribute carry even more serious punishments:

  • First Offense: felony punishable with between 5 and 30 years in jail and a fine of not more than $50,000 (La. R.S. 40:966(B)(3))
  • Second and Subsequent Offenses: felony punishable with between 10 and 60 years in jail and a fine of not more than $100,000 (La. R.S. 40:982(A))

You’re considered a subsequent offender under the Louisiana marijuana laws if you’ve been convicted of any possession, production, manufacturing, distribution or dispensation offense involving narcotics, marijuana, hallucinogens, depressants, or stimulants.  (La. R.S. 40:982(B)).

You will also face increased punishment for distributing marijuana in certain situations:

  • Distribution to Minors: if you are 18 or older and sell marijuana to a minor who is at least 3 years younger than you (La. R.S. 40:981(C));
  • Distribution to Students: if you sell marijuana to a student at any public or private elementary, secondary, vocational-technical training, special, or postsecondary school or institution in Louisiana (La. R.S. 40:981.1);
  • Solicitation of Minors to Distribute: if you are 18 or older and get somebody under 18 to sell marijuana (La. R.S. 40:981.2(B)); and
  • Distribution Near Schools and Drug Free Zones: if you sell marijuana on school properties, school buses, or if designated as “drug free zones,” drug treatment facilities, religious building properties, public housing authority properties, and child day care center properties, or within 2,000 feet of any of such schools or facilities.  (La. R.S. 40:981.3).

This can increase your maximum jail time to 45 years or 90 years and maximum fines to $100,000 or $200,000, depending on your criminal history.  Distributing marijuana near schools and drug free zones requires the maximum fine and imprisonment for up to either 45 or 90 years.  (La. R.S. 40:981.3(E)(1)).

Louisiana Marijuana Laws on Paraphernalia

You will also be subject to punishment if you’re charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (ex. pipes):

  • First Offense: misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $500 (La. R.S. 40:1025(A));
  • Second Offense: misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000 (La. R.S. 40:1025(B)); and
  • Third Offense: felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000 (La. R.S. 40: 1025(C)).

New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a crime involving the Louisiana marijuana laws, you may be facing significant jail time.

The Mahone Firm can help. Call (504) 564-7342 to speak with a New Orleans criminal lawyer today.

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