I get a fair amount of calls from people who are either arrested or given a summons for possession of marijuana. Many times on those calls I get a potential client on the other line expressing disbelief that marijuana possession is still illegal in Louisiana or expressing to me a desire to “fight” their case simply because it involves possession of marijuana.
Don't get me wrong –some possession of marijuana cases are triable cases and many involve potential suppression issues of said marijuana or a confession. Some simple marijuana possession cases are “not triable” in the sense that I do not believe there is a good chance of success at trial. All possession of marijuana cases have little (if anything) to do with whether marijuana is or should be legal in this state.
This is because, contrary to popular belief, marijuana is still illegal in Louisiana. First offense simple possession of marijuana carries a potential fine and up to fifteen days in the parish prison. Second offense simple possession carries a potential of up to six months in the parish prison. Third offense simple possession and beyond are felonies (0-2 for a third offense and 0-8 for a fourth or subsequent offense). Of course, distribution or possession with the intent to distribute is still a felony punishable by 1-10 years.
These penalties are much reduced since I began practicing. If I remember correctly, the penalties were reduced prior to the 2017 legislative session, i.e. the legislative session that produced the bulk of Louisiana's recent criminal justice reform bills. When I began practicing, first offense possession was a misdemeanor and second or subsequent offenses were felonies, which resulted in many non-violent marijuana possessors being sent to prison.
I believe that within a decade, marijuana will be legal in most states, if not across the country. I also beleieve that this is as it should be. Until it is legal in Louisiana, simple possession of marijuana arrests and/or citations will continue to be a big deal to residents. If you have been arrested and/or given a summons for marijuana possession (or any other crime for that matter), give the Law Office of Alex Kriksciun a call today!