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Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Law Overview and State Fines/Penalties - 1/01/2017

Dan Ultra

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Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Law Overview and State Fines/Penalties - 1/01/2017

Louisiana Medical Marijuana Law
Status: Louisiana has one medical cannabis bill, though they have not yet drafted rules and regulations.

Louisiana Legal Information
In 2015, Louisiana attempted to update it dormant medical cannabis law with the passage of SB 143. While a good symbolic step for the state to take, but it will not do anything to help the patients of the state have safe and legal access to medical cannabis therapy. The state regrettably used the term "prescribe" rather than "recommend" in its physician authorizing language, but due to the federal Schedule I status of cannabis, no physician will be able to write prescriptions unless there is a major change at the federal level.

However, in 2016, the state passed and signed a pair of bills, SB 271 and SB 180. The pair of bills fixes the "prescription" language issue, establishes legal protection for patients, and expands the qualifying conditions. However, legal protects for producers and dispensers is left unaddressed, which could prevent the program from functioning.

Penalty Details
Marijuana is a schedule I(C) hallucinogenic substance under Louisiana law.

Possession for Personal Use
For first offenders, possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and/or up to 15 days of imprisonment.

For first offenders, possession of more than 14 grams but less than 2 ½ pounds of marijuana is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 6 months of imprisonment.

There is a one-time two-year cleansing period for first time convictions.

All second convictions regarding less than 2 ½ pounds are punishable by a fine of $1,000 and/or up to 6 months of imprisonment.

All third convictions regarding less than 2 ½ pounds are punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to 2 years of imprisonment.

All fourth convictions regarding less than 2 ½ pounds are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 8 years of imprisonment.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:966(E)

Possession of 2 ½ - less than 60 pounds of marijuana is punishable by 2 -10 years of imprisonment and a fine of $30,000.

Possession of 60 - less than 2,000 pounds of marijuana is a felony and is punishable by 5-30 years of imprisonment and a fine of $50,000-$100,000. Possession of 2,000 - less than 10,000 pounds is a felony and is punishable by 10-40 years of imprisonment and a fine of $100,000-$400,000. Possession of 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana is a felony and is punishable by 25-40 years of imprisonment.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:966(F)


Distribution or Cultivation of Marijuana
Distribution of marijuana includes possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:966(A)

Distribution or cultivation of marijuana is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and 5-30 years of imprisonment. Subsequent offenses are punishable by 10-60 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. Prior offenses include any drug crime convictions, no matter where they occurred. If the defendant is 18 or older and is selling to a minor under the age of 18 who is at least 3 years younger than the defendant a maximum term of 45 years may be imposed for first offenders or 90 years for subsequent offenders. Distributing marijuana to an elementary, middle, or high school student is punishable by a maximum term of 45 years imprisonment for first offenders and up to 90 years imprisonment for subsequent offenses. For first offenders a fine of up to $100,000 may also be imposed. For subsequent offenders a fine of $200,000 may be imposed. Soliciting a minor to distribute marijuana is punishable for first offenders by 45 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. For subsequent offenders imprisonment for up to 90 years and a fine of up to $200,000 may be imposed.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:966(B)(3)
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:982 Web
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:981(C)
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:981.1
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:981.2

Hash & Concentrates
Louisiana classifies both plant-form Marijuana and Tetrahydrocannabinols, including Hashish and Marijuana Concentrates, in schedule I of the Louisiana Controlled Substances Schedule. For the purposes of criminal justice, the statute defines Marijuana as including tetrahydrocannabinols and derivatives thereof. The penalties for offenses involving tetrahydrocannabinols and derivatives thereof have the same penalties as for plant-form Marijuana.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. §40:964(C)(19), (27)
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. §40-961(25)
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. §40-966(E)

Miscellaneous

Violation in a Drug Free Zone
Possession, distribution, or cultivation of marijuana within 2,000 feet of a drug free zone is punishable by 1.5 times the maximum sentence allowed for the underlying offense. A drug free zone includes: Elementary schools, high schools, colleges or universities, playgrounds, drug treatment facilities, religious buildings, public housing, and child care centers.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 40:981.3

Driver's license privileges
Whenever any person who has attained the age of 19 is convicted of any crime, offense, violation, or infraction involving the possession, use, or abuse of one or more controlled dangerous substances, the court... shall issue an order of denial of driving privileges for not less than 30 days but not more than 1 year.

See
  • Louisiana Rev. Stat. § 32:430(2)

MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE

When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to "life MMS" must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective. For more information see NORML's Medical Marijuana section.

TAX STAMPS

This state has a marijuana tax stamp law enacted. This law mandates that those who possess marijuana are legally required to purchase and affix state-issued stamps onto his or her contraband. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or criminal sanction. For more information, see NORML's report Marijuana Tax Stamp Laws And Penalties.
Source: NORML & Americans for Safe Access
 
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