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Marijuana is decriminalized in many states, but NOT Louisiana

Many states have decided to decriminalize marijuana. Louisiana has not taken that step, so being caught with marijuana in this state is still against the law. You can face serious penalties for this drug crime.

An interesting note about marijuana in Louisiana is that the state doesn't provide different charges and penalties for selling or trafficking. Instead, all charges for this drug are based on possession.

Medical marijuana exception

There is one exception to the marijuana laws. Louisiana does allow the drug for medical purposes. Since 1991, doctors can prescribe the drug and patients can use it. The issue here is that there isn't any way for the patient to get the drug. The current law doesn't have any provisions for dispensing marijuana in a legal manner.

From misdemeanor to felony

A first marijuana conviction is a misdemeanor conviction as long as you don't have more than 60 pounds of marijuana in your possession. This comes with a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in the parish jail.

A first conviction for 60 to 2,000 pounds is a felony that comes with 10 to 60 years of hard labor. If the amount is 2,000 to 10,000 pounds, that incarceration term is increased to 20 to 80 years with hard labor. More than 10,000 pounds brings a sentence of 50 to 80 years of hard labor. The fines for these convictions ranges from $50,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the amount of the drug.

Subsequent convictions

A second conviction for a quantity of less than 60 pounds comes with a fine of up to $2,000 and up to five years in prison. Any subsequent conviction is up to 20 years in prison. All of these are felony convictions.

No current sign of change

There aren't any signs that the laws in Louisiana will change. In 2014, a new law for medical marijuana was killed in the state Senate. At the same time, another bill that would have lessened the penalties for marijuana possession was also killed.

Another thing that you have to think about is that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. Even if the drug is legal on a state level, you can face criminal charges on a federal level if the feds opt to pursue the charge.

No matter what kind of marijuana charge you are facing, you should get your defense prepared. In some cases, you might be able to avoid jail by participating in the Adult Drug Treatment Court Program in Calcasieu Parish if your case meets the requirements for the program.

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