If you thought you were going to set up camp in a dormitory at Southern University or LSU and have the time of your life rolling a few joints and partying with friends, you may be quite surprised to learn Louisiana has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the nation.
Considering this, you might want to add learning more about Louisiana’s drug laws to your list of priorities right alongside studying for finals. Just as failing your final exams can negatively impact your college career, so can criminal charges, which is what you risk if you smoke marijuana on campus or elsewhere in the state. You do have rights, and knowing how to protect your rights can save you a lot of undue stress if a legal problem arises.
What are Louisiana’s marijuana laws?
The topic of marijuana legalization is complex, as laws often conflict between state and federal levels. Federal laws take precedence over state laws when it comes to recreational or medical marijuana, and marijuana remains illegal on the federal level. However, some states have enacted decriminalization statutes while other states continue to classify marijuana as an illegal drug in all cases. If you’re going to school in Louisiana, the following information may be useful to you:
- In 1991, Louisiana laws changed to allow marijuana usage in certain medical situations.
- Still, there is no structure in place for the legal dispensation of medical marijuana. Doctors can prescribe it, and patients can use it, but dispensing remains illegal.
- If you are a medical patient and your doctor prescribes marijuana to treat a specific health condition, you are not necessarily breaking the law by using it.
- If you have even a small amount of marijuana (less than 14 grams) in your possession and police happen to show up and arrest you, you may be hit with a $300 fine and a possible 15 days in jail even if you have never been arrested before in your life.
- The penalties for marijuana possession increase as the amount of marijuana increases. For example, if you are caught with between 2.5 and 60 pounds, you could be sentenced to anything from two years to 10 years in prison. Possession of more than 50 pounds of cannabis can result in a prison sentence of five to 30 years.
In any case, a conviction could definitely take a tremendous toll on your college career and could possibly cause you to lose your enrollment at your school. Conducting periodic reviews of Louisiana marijuana laws is advisable as well because such laws often change. The last thing you need is for the next phone call you make to your family at home to be from a county jail.
If you do wind up facing legal challenges regarding marijuana, you definitely wouldn’t be the first Louisiana college student to do so. Others have been able to mitigate the penalties — and even avoid a conviction altogether — by asking an experienced attorney to defend them in court.