Updated May 2020
While marijuana has still not yet been decriminalized or legalized in Louisiana, recent medical marijuana legislative developments show that the state government is making efforts to make life easier for patients seeking medicinal cannabis. Below, you’ll discover the answer to “Is marijuana legal in Louisiana?” and learn what is and isn’t allowed under Louisiana legislation.
Recreational Marijuana in Louisiana
Is marijuana legal in Louisiana? When it comes to recreational use, no.
Violating Louisiana marijuana laws will result in a mandatory minimum sentence (the absolutely minimum amount of jail time an individual will face). No matter the circumstances, judges cannot sentence someone to anything below a predetermined mandatory minimum sentence. For example, if you are caught with between 2.5 and 60 pounds of marijuana, the mandatory minimum sentence is two years in jail. That said, there are some efforts to decriminalize possession on the local level.
Penalties for Marijuana in Louisiana
While recreational marijuana remains illegal in Louisiana, in June 2015 Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Senate Bill 143 to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana.
According to the law, a first-time offender possessing 14 grams or less of marijuana is punishable by 15 days in prison and $300 in fines. The first time offense of carrying more than 14 grams but less than 2.5 pounds is punishable by six months in jail and a payment of $500 in fine. Possession of more than 2.5 pounds of marijuana is punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence starting from two years and going up to 25 years. Possession of more than 60 pounds also requires offenders to pay heavy fines ranging from $100,000 to $1,000,000.
Sale of any amount of recreational marijuana, whether as a first offense or subsequent offense, is punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of at least five years. The distribution of marijuana also leads to life prison terms for up to 90 years and heavy fines ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.
Local Decriminalization of Marijuana
Marijuana possession in the city of New Orleans was decriminalized on March 23, 2016 after Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law Ordinance 31,148. The law allows law enforcement to issue a ticket rather than arresting for marijuana possession and reduces penalties from jail time to a civil fine of $40 to $100.
There are also a number of additional local decriminalization efforts, with local jurisdictions putting into effect resolutions and laws that work to either partially or fully decriminalize minor possession of marijuana and cannabis. Check with local law and government officials to learn more about local decriminalization efforts.
Is Hash Legal in Louisiana?
Hash is a very concentrated form of cannabis that is made from the resin in a cannabis plant. Hash contains high levels of THC, and is illegal in Louisiana. Hash is classified as a controlled substance and carries all of the same fines and penalties as marijuana possession and use.
Is Cannabis Concentrate Legal in Louisiana?
Cannabis concentrate is a highly potent cannabis plant product in which all of the unneeded parts of the plant are filtered out (removing excess plant materials, as well as other impurities found in the plant). As a result, users get a product that has a greater proportion of helpful cannabinoids when compared to normal cannabis. Marijuana concentrates are illegal, with penalties and fines mirroring the punishments for marijuana possession and use.
Driver’s License Privileges Taken Away as Punishment
Here is one unique aspect of Louisiana’s marijuana laws: If any individual over the age of 18 possesses or uses a controlled substance such as marijuana, the state will take away their driver’s license and ability to legally drive for a minimum of 30 days. Depending on the severity of the violation, the court may take away your driver’s license privileges for up to one year.
Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
The Louisiana State Legislature signed SB 143 into law in June 2015 to lay the framework for medicinal marijuana access, but regulatory hurdles have caused the program’s launch to be delayed. To try to kick-start the program, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill in May 2016 that expands the program to include more conditions and allows doctors to “recommend” rather than “prescribe” marijuana to patients.
Medical marijuana in Louisiana became available to patients starting in August 2019. Agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University have been selected to grow cannabis for the state, overseen by the state agriculture department. Nine dispensaries have been selected throughout the state.
Medical marijuana will be allowed in the form of medicinal oils, pills, liquids, and topical applications. In June 2019, Louisiana lawmakers passed a bill allowing for the sale and use of cannabis inhalers.
When Can a Doctor Recommend Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?
Despite launch delays, lawmakers have continued to make efforts to improve the program. In June 2018, Gov. Edwards signed into law two measures that expand the state’s medical marijuana program. House Bill 579 added glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Parkinson’s disease as qualifying conditions. House Bill 672 allows for medical marijuana to be used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
A full list of the conditions that are approved for medical marijuana under Louisiana law is as follows:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Intractable pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s eisease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure disorders
- Severe muscle spasms
Tax Stamps Required on Medical Marijuana
Tax stamps are another unique aspect of Louisiana marijuana laws. In short, licensed sellers of medical marijuana are required to place a state-issued stamp on marijuana packaging and containers. These stamps not only require distributors to clearly mark any marijuana products they have on them, but it also helps the state collect taxes on the sale of medical marijuana.
Tax stamps cost $3.50 per gram of marijuana if the owner is in possession of 42.5 grams of marijuana or more. If an individual is caught with cannabis that does not have a tax stamp, they are subject to a fine that is 200% the cost of the original tax stamps, as well as the possibility of up to five years in prison.
Louisiana’s Drug Free Zones
A drug-free zone is a designated area in Louisiana in which no controlled substances can be present, no matter the circumstances. This includes both recreational and medical marijuana, and possession or use can be charged with violating a drug-free zone, even if you have a medical marijuana license. Drug-free zones include elementary and high schools, universities and colleges, religious buildings such as churches or temples, childcare facilities, public housing, and drug treatment facilities.
Not only are you not allowed to have drugs directly in these zones, but you are not allowed to have drugs within 2,000 feet of drug-free zones. If you are caught possessing, distributing, or cultivating marijuana within 2,000 feet of a drug-free zone, any penalties will be punishable by 1.5 times the maximum sentence. That means that if you are caught in possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana, you may be subject to a $450 fine and 22 days in jail, as that is 1.5 times the standard $300 fine and a 15-day jail sentence.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Louisiana
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Louisiana
The cultivation of cannabis for any purpose is a major offense in Louisiana. Cultivation of any amount of marijuana as a first offense is punishable by a five-year minimum mandatory sentence and 30 years maximum prison time, along with up to $50,000 in fines. Soliciting a minor to cultivate marijuana can lead up to 90 years in jail, with up to $20,000 in fines.
In June 2019, Louisiana lawmakers approved a measure that allows state farmers to get into the hemp-growing business. The measure also authorizes and regulates sales of hemp-derived CBD. Louisiana is one of the first three states to have its hemp program approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The state plans to allow commercial cultivation for the first time in 2020.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
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