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Louisiana's harsh marijuana laws are still enforced

Marijuana laws vary greatly throughout the United States and reflect a confusing mix of statutes that allow varying degrees of freedom to possess and use cannabis. Make no mistake: Louisiana is not among the group of states that has loosened its weed laws.

Though our legislature did establish provisions for medical marijuana for patients and caregivers in 2017, it remains illegal for the average person to possess, use or cultivate cannabis in Louisiana.

Those who are arrested here for marijuana-related charges still often face harsh punishments. We recently read about two men arrested approximately 160 miles north of Lake Charles after police pulled them over in a traffic stop.

A pair of Caldwell Parish Sheriff's deputies pulled the men over because their Honda Accord had only one working headlight. The deputies said that as they approached the vehicle to speak with the driver, there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the Honda.

The deputies asked for and were granted permission to search the car. They also patted down the men and said they found more than $2,300 in cash on the passenger - and said they detected the odor of marijuana coming from the cash as well.

In the Honda's trunk, they found a backpack with two clear bags containing what appeared to be about 150 grams of marijuana. That works out to slightly more than five ounces.

If the men had been in Alaska, where each adult can legally possess up to one ounce in public and up to four ounces of weed at home, the story of the traffic stop might have been different. But here in Louisiana, deputies put handcuffs on the men and took them to the parish jail for booking.

They now face possession with intent to distribute charges that can mean time behind bars if they are convicted.

If you face similar accusations, contact a skilled Lake Charles attorney experienced in criminal defense.

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