Is recreational cannabis legal in Louisiana? Is medicinal marijuana legal in Louisiana? What about Louisiana's CBD laws? Find out about the weed laws in Louisiana in this article.
We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.
Deep in the southern heart of the US lies Louisiana. Now known for the bustling port city of New Orleans, Louisiana has a complex history including French and Spanish settlements, slave trade and a diverse Native American population.
Evergreen Plantation lies just north west of New Orleans and is one of the most intact plantations in the south. It was even used as 'Candyland' in Quentin Taratino's Django Unchained. These days, Evergreen is still a functioning sugar plantation, with daily tours of the grounds.
The current owner has also made extensive efforts to create an online database of the enslaved throughout the years of the plantation's history. Over the course of 150 years, more than 400 people were enslaved at Evergreen. Due to Code Noir, all French colony slaves were baptised in the Catholic faith. The Evergreen Plantation database includes dates of the baptism of most of the enslaved.
In 1803, US President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase – almost doubling the country's size. The land was purchased from the French, under the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Jefferson recognised the importance of New Orleans and its location at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Nowadays, New Orleans is a thriving cultural city of music, food and festivals. The diverse backgrounds of NOLA residents has created a unique scene and makes it one of the most visited cities in the US. Mardi Gras, or Carnival, is the biggest festival event on the New Orleans' calendar. Parades are held across a number of weeks for the celebration.
New Orleans is also known for its music. Jazz saw the rise of Louis Armstrong, and Fats Domino carved rhythm and blues. Due to NOLA's tradition of parades, marching band music quickly morphed into various forms of jazz and swing.
There are plenty of events to keep you busy in New Orleans, but can you smoke weed in Louisiana?
Is recreational cannabis legal in Louisiana?
Cannabis was originally outlawed in Louisiana in the 1920s, and even though there were newspaper reports of cannabis use in the state, there were only 30 cannabis convictions in the state in 1930.
Cannabis possession and use is still a criminal offence in Louisiana, and there are intense mandatory minimum sentences in place. In 2015, Louisiana's state governor, Bobby Jindal, signed HB149, which reduced previous penalties for possession.
First time offences were decriminalized statewide in 2015 – possession of 14 grams or less carries a $300 fine and/or 15 days in jail. Possession between 14 grams and 2.5 pounds is punishable by a $500 and/or six months in jail. The cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge have decriminalized possession of marijuana, and there is a one-time two year cleansing period for all first convictions.
If you're caught in possession of more than 2.5 pounds, the mandatory minimum sentence kicks in at 2 years incarceration and a $30, 000 fine. Mandatory minimum sentences depend on the weight and get as high as 25 years in prison and fines up to $1, 000, 000.
There is no decriminalization for first offence cultivation or distribution of marijuana. Mandatory minimum sentences start at 5 year imprisonment and a $50, 000 fine, and reach 10 years in jail and a $100, 000 fine.
In addition to the harsh mandatory minimum sentences, Louisiana also restricts driving privileges. If over 18, the court can choose to take away a driver's licence for 1-12 months for possession or consumption.
Is medicinal marijuana legal in Louisiana?
In addition to signing HB 149 for reducing possession punishments, Governor Bobby Jindal also signed SB 143 in 2015 which created a framework for medicinal marijuana treatment and dispensary. It wasn't until August 2019 that medical marijuana was first sold in the state of Louisiana under the laws.
Louisiana medical cannabis laws cover a range of conditions including cancer, glaucoma, Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. Conditions linked to brain chemistry including post traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy are also included. There is also a clause which states any pain which is strong enough to warrant an opioid prescription is a valid condition, and there are current movements to open the definition to any debilitating condition. Although this has received support in the state government, it is still up to the governor to sign it into action.
Patients seeking medicinal cannabis need to have a signed recommendation from their physician stating their qualifying condition. The recommendation allows the patient to purchase 30 days' worth of product. There are a range of medicinal products available in Louisiana licensed dispensaries, but cannabis products cannot be smoked or eaten raw. Instead of smoking marijuana flower, dispensaries can supply a metered dose inhaler.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions, dispensaries are legally able to deliver medicinal marijuana products to their patients, and recommendations can be granted over the phone by their physician.
Is CBD legal in Louisiana?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, products are legal at a federal level across the US due to the signing of the Farm Bill in 2018. This bill has legalised the sale and consumption of CBD products with less than a 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content. CBD and THC are compounds of the cannabis plant, but only the THC is psychoactive, meaning CBD products won't get you high.
So why bother if they won't get you high? Well, there are studies which show CBD can be helpful for reducing inflammation, lowering anxiety and helping with quitting smoking. CBD products come in a range of types, including topical creams for sore spots, edibles and ingestible oils.
CBD companies have also made deals with UFC to study effects on post-game body repair, and multiple fighters, including Nate Diaz, have been vocal about their use of CBD products. Skateboarder Tony Hawk has signed up with 1933 Industries to release his first body balm under the Canna Hemp X label.
There are plenty of celebrities who are on board with CBD products including Kristen Bell, who has just announced her new skincare line which is due to hit stores later this year.
Although there are limited studies into CBD's positive effects, there is certainly a huge market forming. In the next few years we may see CBD products be used to help with a range of mental and physical ailments around the world.
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