While cannabis has still not yet been decriminalized or legalized in Louisiana, recent medical cannabis legislative developments show that the state government is making efforts to make life easier for patients seeking the substance for medical purposes.
CBD from Hemp Oil in Louisiana
Hemp CBD oil is federally legal in the U.S. Individual state laws, however, are dynamic and some states have and will enact their own laws regulating hemp-derived CBD.
Medical Cannabis in Louisiana
The Louisiana State Legislature signed SB 143 into law in June 2015 to lay the framework for medicinal cannabis access, but regulatory hurdles have caused the program to struggle. 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” cannabis to patients.
A state-sanctioned grower and 10 distributors still need to be selected. The program is expected to be up and running in late 2017 or early 2018.
The follow conditions are approved for medical cannabis under SB 143:
- Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Seizure Disorders
- Severe Muscle Spasms
Recreational Cannabis in Louisiana
While recreational cannabis remains illegal in Louisiana, in June 2015 Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Senate Bill 143 to reduce penalties for possession. According to the new law, a first time offender possessing 14 grams or less 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 6 months in jail and a payment of $500 in fine. Possession of more than 2.5 pounds is punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence starting from 2 years 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 cannabis, whether as a first offense or subsequent offense, is punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of at least 5 years. Distribution also leads to life prison terms for up to 90 years and heavy fines ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.
Cannabis 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 possession and reduces penalties from jail time to a civic fine of $40 to $100.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Louisiana
Cultivation of cannabis for any purpose is a major offense in Louisiana. Cultivation of any amount of cannabis as a first offense is punishable by a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence and 30 years maximum prison time, along with up to $50,000 in fines. Soliciting a minor to cultivate cannabis can lead up to 90 years in jail, with up to $20,000 in fines.
Louisiana has not passed state laws allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp for research or commercial purposes.