The marijuana laws in Louisiana as of 2023 are discussed here. This has been a hot topic for legislatures in every state, especially Louisiana. I will discuss the most recent and relevant changes to the marijuana laws. In 2023, marijuana is still illegal. However, it seems that Louisiana lawmakers are inching towards legalizing marijuana eventually.
Can Now Smoke Marijuana With Prescription
The smokable form of marijuana can now be prescribed or recommended. This is probably the biggest change to the Louisiana marijuana laws recently. Before this law change, physicians could only recommend gummies or cream. In other words, patients could not get the smokable form of marijuana. Now, the smokable form can be obtained at a licensed pharmacy with a valid recommendation from a physician.
Can’t Smoke and Drive
Nevertheless, you can’t smoke and drive. In fact, the legislature created a new recent law that prohibits smoking marijuana in a vehicle while it is being operated on a public road. The new law under La. R.S. 32:300.4.1 basically protects the police officer’s ability to use the smell of marijuana to search a vehicle. If the cop says he can smell marijuana, that gives him probable cause to believe you were smoking in the vehicle, therefore, he can search the vehicle for evidence to support the probable cause. Therefore, it is more illegal than ever to smoke marijuana in your car and police now have more power than ever to search your vehicle based on the smell of marijuana.
The Odor of Marijuana is Not Probable Cause to Search Your House
However, the smell of weed alone is no longer sufficient to support probable cause to search a residence in Louisiana. Beginning August 1, 2022, new laws went into effect that now more clearly control probable cause searches in Louisiana. The Louisiana Legislature created Article 162.4 of Code of Criminal Procedure which states that the odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a police officer with probable cause to conduct a search without a warrant of a residence.
Now, the police officer has to go get a warrant. The smell of marijuana alone does not support probable cause to search a residence without a warrant. The reason is that it is now legal to smoke marijuana with a valid prescription in Louisiana. There could be someone in the house with a valid prescription smoking weed. That is legal. Therefore, there is no probable cause to believe a crime is being committed. True, they may not have a prescription and therefore, are possessing marijuana illegally and so there is a crime being committed. But, the right to privacy in a home has been weighed and is determined to be more important than the officer investigating a potential marijuana possession case.
Decriminalization of Marijuana in Louisiana
The only decriminalization of marijuana in Louisiana occurred in 2021 when the legislature changed the law to reflect that if a person possessed 14 grams or less, the police officer could not arrest him, but must only issue a criminal summons to appear in court. The police officer cannot book the defendant and require a bond to be posted. The penalty upon conviction has been reduced as well. However, it is still illegal to possess a small amount of marijuana without a valid prescription. Marijuana is not legal in Louisiana.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Louisiana in 2023
- Possession of Marijuana, 1st Offense of 14 grams or less: $100 Fine
- Possession of Marijuana, 1st Offense of more than 14 grams: 0-6 months in jail and/or a Fine of $500
- Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Offense of more than 14 grams: 0-6 months in jail and/or a Fine of $1000
- Possession of Marijuana, 3rd Offense of more than 14 grams: 0-2 years in jail and/or a Fine of $2,500
- Possession of Marijuana, 4th Offense or Subsequent of more than 14 grams: 0-8 years in jail and/or a Fine of $5000
Possession With Intent to Distribute and Distribution
- Possession of Marijuana of 2.5 pounds or more shall be considered PWID Marijuana
- Distribution, Manufacture or Possession with Intent of less than 2.5 pounds: 1-10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000
- Distribution, Manufacture or Possession with Intent of 2.5 pounds or more: 1-20 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000