Did you know that marijuana is now legal for adults in sixteen different states? More and more states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana than ever before. And while this is good for the cannabis community, it can make understanding marijuana in your state difficult.
After all, it seems like laws change monthly. If you live in Lousiana, then you might be wondering what the legal status of the substance is. So, is marijuana legal in Louisiana? In this article, we’ll answer everything you need to know about cannabis in the state and what to do if you’re caught with it. Let’s get started!
Is Marijuana Legal in Louisiana?
Like many states, the answer to this question is a bit complicated. No, marijuana isn’t legal recreationally in Louisiana. It’s listed as a Schedule 1 drug, which means the state has deemed it addictive and without medical value. However, this isn’t entirely true. In 1991 the substance became legal in the form of medical marijuana.
Still, it wasn’t until 2016 when Governor John Bel Edwards signed the SB 271 Act into law that medical marijuana became widespread in the state. This law made Louisiana one of the first states in the south to utilize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
These days it’s easier for patients to qualify for the substance. As such, patients that qualify can purchase the substance at state-approved dispensaries. Unfortunately, the Schedule 1 classification remains. This means there can be serious legal ramifications if you’re facing certain marijuana charges.
Charges Related to Marijuana in Louisiana
Charges for marijuana in Louisiana are broken down into two major areas: possession and sale/distribution/trafficking. Possession is the less serious of the two charges, though its severity depends on the number of offenses and the amount of marijuana you’re found with.
Similarly, sale/distribution/trafficking depends on the amount on you when you’re arrested. Also, keep in mind that many of these charges also come with penalties aside from jail time and fines. This can include things like license suspensions, suspension of financial aid, and ineligibility for certain jobs.
Possession of Marijuana
As we mentioned, the severity of a possession charge depends on which offense you’re on, as well as the amount of weed in your possession. If it’s your first offense and you have under fourteen grams of marijuana, then you face up to fifteen days in jail and a fine of up to $300.
However, first offenders with over fourteen grams face a harsher sentence with up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. After that, the sentences just get more strict. A second offense can land you with a charge of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
A third offense comes with a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Finally, a fourth offense increases the imprisonment up to eight years and a fine of up to $5,000.
However, keep in mind that these charges only apply if the amount you’re caught with is under sixty pounds. If you’re caught with over sixty, then the sentences breakdown in the following way:
- Over sixty pounds, but less than two thousand pounds = between ten and sixty years in prison
- Over two thousand pounds, but less than ten thousand pounds = between twenty and eighty years in prison
- Over ten thousand pounds = fifty years or more in prison
Sale, Distribution, and Trafficking
Sale, distribution, and trafficking charges carry much more serious consequences than possession. As such, if you face one of these charges, then you should contact a lawyer that specializes in drug charges. Like possession, the severity of a distribution charge depends on how much you’re caught with.
If the court convicts you of trying to distribute under two in a half pounds, then you face between one and ten years of prison, either with hard labor or without.
The conviction can also include a fine of up to $50,000. If you’re convicting of distributing over two in a half pounds, then you face a charge of between one and twenty years in prison with hard labor. The conviction also includes a fine of up to $50,000.
What Should I Do If I’m Charged With a Marijuana Offense?
Many people think that since possession laws are lenient for first offenses that they don’t need legal help when charged. However, the reality is that Louisiana is still remarkably strict on marijuana offenders. Despite the legal medical status, the Schedule 1 classification requires judges to take the charge seriously.
As such, you should seek immediate help for your marijuana offense as soon as you’re charged. This is especially true if you’re facing distribution or trafficking charges.
These offenses can carry lengthy jail time. As such, you need a competent defense attorney that can provide you with the legal help that you need. If you want to learn more about the different parts of fighting a marijuana charge, then make sure to check out our comprehensive guide here.
Need Legal Defense Help? Let Carl Barkemeyer Fight For You
We hope this article helped you answer the question, Is marijuana legal in Louisiana? As you can see, the landscape of cannabis law in the state has changed considerably over the past decade. However, certain marijuana charges still carry lengthy fines and jail time with them.
As such, if you face one of these charges, then you must find a good defense attorney. But how do you find one that you can trust? If you live around Baton Rouge, Livingston, or Ascension, then look no further than Carl Barkemeyer. For over fifteen years, Carl Barkemeyer’s law practice has represented defendants facing criminal charges.
Whether it’s a drug charge or a shoplifting charge, we can help you get the defense you need. If you’re ready for the legal help that you deserve, then make sure to get in touch with us today.