Marijuana Laws in Louisiana

This article reviews Louisiana’s laws and regulations surrounding both recreational and medical marijuana possession.

8
minute read

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article reviews the marijuana laws in the Bayou state and the penalties for those who break them.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Is Marijuana Legal in Louisiana?

Marijuana is legal for medical use in Louisiana and illegal for recreational use.  Under bill SB 271, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law medical marijuana. [1] However, in order to be allowed to have marijuana on your person, you must have a medical card prescribed to you by a licensed medical professional. Without this card, you will be charged for illegal possession, even if you are carrying just a personal amount of marijuana.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 substance throughout the United States. Though some states are legalizing it, the drug remains illegal in Louisiana. In fact, the state has such strict drug regulations that being caught with even just a personal amount of cannabis can end in serious repercussions.

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It should be noted that marijuana was decriminalized by Governor Jindal in 2015 under SB 143. [2] This means the penalties for being in possession of the substance were significantly reduced.

Cannabinoid Oil

As marijuana gradually becomes legal across the nation, a form of cannabis is also finding its own place as a medicine. Cannabinoid oil, or CBD, is a chemical compound derived from hemp plants. Unlike marijuana, CBD won’t get you high. You’ll only find trace amounts of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, within CBD; 0.3% to be exact. [3]

Many people find that CBD is effective in relieving the following medical complications:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Intractable epilepsy
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

In the state of Louisiana, cannabinoid oil remains heavily regulated. Under the Farm Bill of 2018, not only has hemp become legal to grow across the nation but cannabinoid oil products are legal to sell too. [4] Though it’s legal to grow hemp in Louisiana, the plant is often mistaken for marijuana. Therefore, if you have a garden of hemp, you might draw unwanted attention from law enforcement.

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Marijuana Laws in Louisiana

Under Louisiana Revised Status, Title 40, Section 966, possession of marijuana is illegal. [5] There are only a few exceptions to this rule, which include:

  • Patients who participate in state-sponsored medical marijuana programs.
  • Patients with proper medical marijuana identification.
  • Parents whose children are minors and possess the proper medical marijuana identification.
  • Specific caregivers, as defined in Section 1503 of the law.

In other cases, nobody is allowed to possess marijuana in Louisiana. Unlike other parts of the United States, there’s little tolerance for those in possession of marijuana in Louisiana.

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It’s important to remember that marijuana remains a Schedule I substance one a federal level. That means it’s not recognized to have medical value and is believed to have high risks of addiction. Just because it’s legal in other states doesn’t make it okay to use marijuana.

Penalties

The following penalties are possible for people in possession of marijuana in the State of Louisiana. If you are believed to be distributing or trafficking, the penalty increases. And if you are holding a certain amount of weed, you’re automatically tried with the intent to distribute. Penalties for possession of marijuana in Louisiana include:

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If you are caught trying to produce, manufacture, distribute, or possess with the intent to produce, manufacture or distribute marijuana or synthetic marijuana, you face a mandatory minimum 5 years prison sentence with a maximum of 30 years and a fine of up to $50,000. The more marijuana you have on you, the bigger these penalties can become.

There are a variety of different circumstances that will lead law enforcement to believe you are breaking these offenses. These include having grow lights in a closet or having trafficking equipment, such as scales, a large amount of cash, or even a large sum of baggies.

Additional Penalties

All of the above scenarios can vary. In certain circumstances, your penalties can be heightened. For example, if you’re in a school zone or selling to minors, you should expect more severe consequences.

You can also face a series of other penalties. These penalties vary from case to case. In order to get a clear sense of what these punishments are in terms of you, you’ll want to speak to a lawyer. These other penalties include:

  • Ineligibility to obtain certain employment.
  • Ineligibility to obtain certain types of government employment.
  • Ineligibility to qualify for certain types of college scholarship or financial aid.
  • Ineligibility to qualify for public housing.
  • Ineligibility to receive a state license or certification.
  • Potential community service.
  • Potential enrollment in drug treatment programs.
  • Probation.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license.

Marijuana DUI

Marijuan DUI laws in Louisiana are comparable to the state’s alcohol DUI laws. [6] The biggest difference is you risk facing more severe penalties for a possession charge. Furthermore, there’s no way to indicate whether or not you are under the influence of marijuana. When it comes to alcohol, a police officer will test your blood alcohol content, BAC. When it comes to marijuana, the only way law enforcement can understand whether or not you’re under the influence solely through a physical test.

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It’s important to keep the above penalties in mind when it comes to a marijuana DUI in Louisiana. Penalties for DUI of marijuana include:

First Offense

  • Fines between $300 and $1,000
  • Jail time between 10 days and 6 months
  • License suspension for up to 12 months
  • Potential community service for up to 32 hours
  • Potential driver improvement program
  • Potential substance abuse program

Second Offense

  • Fines between $750 and $1,000
  • Jail time between 30 days to 6 months
  • License suspension for up to 24 months
  • Potential community service for up to 240 hours
  • Potential driver improvement program
  • Potential substance abuse program

Third Offense

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Jail time between 1 to 5 years
  • License suspension for up to 36 months
  • Necessary substance abuse evaluation and treatment programs
  • Potential driver improvement program
  • Potential seizure and sale of your motor vehicle

It’s important to note you may also be asked to take driving courses and, depending on your circumstances, your penalties can be more harsh than those mentioned.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Yes! Marijuana is addictive.

Just like any other drug psychoactive drug, weed causes physical dependence, tolerance, and psychological craving. Though many stoners will tell you they aren’t addicted to marijuana, scientists will tell you differently. For one, the psychoactive qualities of cannabis play a large role in how chronic users handle both mental and emotional stress.

Secondly, chronic users tend to feel withdrawal affects upon quitting weed. Though these aren’t as severe as other drug withdrawal affects such as heroin, they can still making quitting difficult. This is due to the brain becoming accustomed to marijuana. Over time, the brain feels a need for the substance in order to feel “normal”. Some of the psychological symptoms related to marijuana dependence and addiction include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep patterns

Furthermore, chronic users should expect to feel physical withdrawal, as well. Some people report that it’s impossible to fall to sleep at night without marijuana. Others will lose their sense of appetite. This is because the body adapts to the drug. Physical dependence can cause the following in individuals who try to quit or to significantly lower dosage:

  • Aggression
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Raise in body temperature
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating

If you or anyone you love is struggling with a marijuana addiction, there is help available. Mental health professionals can help you get off marijuana. The main treatments include talk therapy and temporary use of medications like antidepressants. Reach out today for help. You can live without marijuana!

Marijuana Treatment

People who smoke marijuana are well aware that the drug effects everyone differently. The same is true for those who experience marijuana treatment. All reputable facilities are aware of this and WILL NOT try to sell you something that’s “one size fits all”. If you run into such a statement, seek out another treatment facility.

There are five basic steps for treatment of a marijuana problem. Each step helps address symptoms related to the physical need for marijuana and the mental obsession to use. These steps include:

1. Medical Assessment

In order to begin treatment, a facility must understand your unique case. Assessment will take about 1-1/5 hours and should record various factors about yourself, including your medical condition and family history. You’ll be asked to submit a blood or urine sample for drug testing, and should undergo an interview process. This way, medical professionals begin to have a better picture of your specific needs so that they can develop a treatment plan just for you.

2. Detox

When a person goes through detox, they go through the acute withdrawal from psychoactive drugs. Symptoms are primarily physical. Since marijuana addiction is primarily psychological, not everyone will need to detox. Still, some people may benefit from receiving a medically supervised marijuana detox. This can include chronic smokers who need to flush THC out their system or people who use multiple drugs, including alcohol.

3. Psychological Treatment

This is the most vital stage of marijuana treatment, as talk therapy addresses the root cause of the problem. Through a variety of psychotherapies, mental health professionals aim to help you change your thoughts, pattern, and beliefs so you no longer feel the need to use marijuana. The most common forms of counseling are individual talk therapy and group therapy.

4. Educational Sessions

During treatment, it’s also important that you inform yourself about how drugs affect your brain. You will do so through educational sessions. The goal is to help you understand that unnatural chemical highs are short-lasting but have long term effects. Then, you’re more likely to keep away from drugs in the future and prevent relapse. It’s also important to understand the dangers that can arise through addiction.

5. Supportive Services

Most treatment facilities offer supportive services following your treatment. These include vocational training, housing assistance, financial assistance, legal assistance, and medical assistance. Just as with detox, not everyone will need this.

Louisiana’s Views on Marijuana

Like much of the south, Louisiana State has not adapted to the use of marijuana in the same ways as other places in the country. In fact, many people in the Bayou state want to keep medical marijuana medical. [7] Though much of the country is pushing for recreational cannabis, Louisiana doesn’t view there to be enough of a reason to allow everyone to take it.

Over time, the state legislatures of Louisiana might push for recreational weed. Yet, as of this time, it’s important to remember that the federal government still sees marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Police in Louisiana look upon the drug in the same manner. And if you’re caught in possession of it, you should expect to face the repercussions.

Your Questions

This article aimed to answer all your questions surrounding marijuana laws in Louisiana.

Still have more questions?

Feel free to ask them in the comments section below. If you have further information on Louisiana’s marijuana laws or advice to give for people with a marijuana charge, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] Office of the Governor: Gov. Edwards Signs SB 271: Medical Marijuana
[2] Louisiana State Legislature: Bill Info SB143
[3] U.S. Nation Library of Medicine: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol
[4] United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry: 2018 Farm Bill
[5] Louisiana State Legislature: RS 40:966
[6] Louisiana State Legislature: RS 14:98
[7] CNN: Louisiana is trying to keep medical marijuana medical. It’s harder than it sounds
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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