Marijuana laws and penalties in Louisiana

Louisiana Criminal Law:

Illegal Drugs in Louisiana -Marijuana

What makes marijuana illegal? Whether you’re talking about pot, marijuana, cannabis, or weed, Louisiana calls it a Controlled Dangerous Substance. The Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law (LSA R.S. 40:961) is a series of statutes that define five classes of controlled dangerous substances, from Schedule I drugs to Schedule V drugs; Schedule I being the most serious and Schedule 5 being the least serious. Marijuana (spelled “Marihuana” in this one place) is made a Schedule I drug. -LSA R.S. 40:964

How is Marijuana defined? “Marijuana” means all parts of plants of the Genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin, but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. -LSA R.S. 47:2602

Cash crop. According to NORML, marijuana is Louisiana’s 6th largest cash crop after rice, but before sweet potatoes. But for street price per production dollar, marijuana is #1.

Penalties for marijuana possession in Louisiana

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I, Hallucinogenic substance. The possession of marijuana is treated a little differently than the possession of other Schedule I drugs (many of which carry life sentences). Unlike most states, the amount of marijuana in possession, as long as it is less than sixty pounds, does not matter.

The penalties for possession of less than sixty pounds are:

  • First offense: five hundred dollars and/or up to six months in jail.
  • Second offense: two thousand dollars and/or up to five years in jail.
  • Third offense: up to twenty years in jail.

Caution: Conviction for the possession of other Schedule I drugs can be considered in determining prior convictions for possession of marijuana.

The penalties for possessing over sixty pounds are:

  • Possession of sixty pounds but less than two thousand pounds: not less than ten years up to sixty years.
  • Possession of two thousand pounds but less than ten thousand pounds: not less than twenty years up to eighty years.
  • Possession of ten thousand pounds or more: not less than fifty years up to eighty years.

2,000 pounds of pot has higher penaltyAlthough drugs and prison are not amusing subjects, you can’t help but wonder what the thinking by the Louisiana Legislature was here. Why distinguish between possession of 2,000 pounds or more of marijuana versus 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana? It is hard to picture the transportation issues. Police officer: “Excuse me sir, but do you have over 2,000 pounds of marijuana in your pocket?” Given the law criminals have to work with, it sure would make sense to transport marijuana in 59 pound packages.

Caution: Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any of the offenses above can be sentenced to one-half the penalty for committing the offense itself. If a person over 18 distributes to a person under 18 who is at least 3 years younger, the penalties can be doubled. The penalties can also be doubled for any person of any age who distributes to a student enrolled in a public or private school. Distribution on schools grounds, at drug treatment facilities, at churches, or on public housing authority property can also increase the penalties.

An interesting bit of Louisiana marijuana law is the “Pot Tax”. Right before the Sweet Potato Tax statute comes LSA R.S. 47:2601 which levies a tax on all dealers of marijuana in the State of Louisiana. Further, the law authorizes tax stamps that must be “affixed to or stamped on marijuana or controlled dangerous substances, or containers thereof.”

Louisiana pot tax stampTo quote further from the law: “Stamps shall be affixed by the dealer on the smallest container or package of marijuana or controlled dangerous substance that is subject to the tax, to permit the secretary to readily ascertain by an inspection of any dealer’s stock on hand whether or not the tax has been paid.”

By the way, the application for pot stamps does not require that the person give their name or address.