Updated on August 28, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws
The Louisiana State Legislature signed Senate Bill 143 into law in 2015. In March 2016, SB 271 made amendments to SB 143 that allowed it to comply with federal law. These laws removed state-level penalties for certain marijuana-related activities for patients with recommendations from certified doctors. SB 180 and SB 35 added protections for patients and dispensary staff members. Acts 708 and 496 of the 2018 legislative session expanded the state’s list of qualifying conditions.
To qualify for a recommendation, a patient must have one of the qualifying conditions determined by the state. They then must receive an evaluation from a doctor specially licensed by the state to recommend medical marijuana. If their doctor considers them eligible, the written recommendation allows the patient to purchase cannabis medicine at a dispensary. Patients can choose from a wide variety of medicinal product types, but they may not smoke marijuana in any form or consume it raw.
Marijuana Possession Laws in Louisiana
In Louisiana, possession laws are as follows:
- First-time offenders can receive a punishment of up to $500 in fines and 15 days in prison if they possess an amount of marijuana under 14 grams. Amounts over 14 grams but under two and a half pounds raise the penalties to up to $500 in fines and six months imprisonment. Subsequent convictions raise the limits even higher.
- Possession of an amount over 60 pounds counts as a felony. The highest penalty applies to offenders with more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana, who receive 25 to 40 years imprisonment.
Louisiana Cultivation and Distribution Laws
Distribution and cultivation in Louisiana has the following legislation:
- Under Louisiana’s medical marijuana laws, only Louisiana State University, Southern University and their contractors may have permits to grow cannabis.
- Louisiana’s distribution laws also apply to possession with the intent to distribute.
- Distributing or growing marijuana has a penalty of up to $50,000 and five to 30 years in prison for the first offense. Subsequent offenses receive 10 to 60 years in jail and up to $100,000 in fines. Prior convictions for other drugs count as a previous offense when determining these punishments.
- If the offender distributes to a minor, they can have an imprisonment term of up to 45 years for a first offense and 90 years for additional offenses.
Concentrates and Hash Laws in Louisiana
Laws related to concentrates and hash usage are:
- Louisiana classifies marijuana’s plant form and THC-infused items such as concentrates in Schedule I of the state’s Controlled Substances Schedule. Therefore, anyone caught with a concentrate without a recommendation receives the same penalties as they would for plant-form cannabis.
- Marijuana-based CBD oils could also qualify as a Schedule I substance if they have a trace amount of THC.
Local Decriminalization in Louisiana
At the time of writing, only the city of New Orleans has local laws decriminalizing marijuana. In 2016, the city approved of softer penalties against anyone over 17 carrying less than two and a half pounds of cannabis. Both first-time and subsequent offenders can receive a court summons instead of an arrest. However, these rules don’t apply to anyone found in a drug-free zone such as a church or school.