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Tough Louisiana marijuana laws toughest for growers, dealers

Most of the country seems to be loosening marijuana laws while Louisiana keeps a tight lid on cannabis.

Whether you’re here for college, a job or you’re a native Louisianan, you should know that Louisiana is bucking the trend.

Although we have a reputation as relaxed people who know how to enjoy life, the laws on our books are designed to keep the good times from rolling for marijuana users.

Prison and fines on the books

Our penalties for possession are strict, but they aren’t what make us standouts nationwide.

Getting caught holding just a trace to 14 grams of weed, or very roughly what you can fit in the palm of one hand, carries up to 15 days in jail and/or a $300 fine for a first conviction. A third conviction could mean prison for up to 2 years, possibly with hard labor, and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Immunity is granted to certain patients and caregivers possessing medical marijuana.

The real issue is in selling and growing cannabis. Any quantity, no matter how small, earns you a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. The time could be as much as 30 years and the fine could reach $50,000 for a first timer.

Written in the books but not in stone

To be sentenced, you’re first supposed to be guilty. A wide variety of defenses and bargaining strategies are possible once you’ve been arrested for a marijuana offense.

Possible defenses for marijuana possession are legion. The most common and familiar include the lack of knowledge or intent (the drugs belong to someone else), unlawful search and seizure, questionable lab analysis of the evidence or missing evidence at trial, entrapment or planted evidence.

Striking a plea bargain usually means agreeing to plead guilty to a less serious offense in exchange for avoiding a more serious conviction and/or sentence. This gets you out of the expense and risk of a trial while prosecutors score a conviction and move on to another, perhaps more serious crimes. Plea bargains are surprisingly common and sometimes controversial in the United States.

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