On June 22, 2021, Governor Edwards signed Louisiana’s House Bill 391. The Bill allows possession of small amounts of raw marijuana for medicinal use. As reported by WDSU 6 News, individuals found having less than 14 grams of nonprescription marijuana will also no longer face a punishment of jail time.
Physicians may now prescribe smokable cannabis and patients may buy and smoke marijuana in its raw plant form. Before the law, patients could only purchase and use medicinal cannabis as part of an elixir or inhaler. Doctors may now prescribe each patient up to 2.5 ounces or 71 grams of raw marijuana every two weeks.
An individual may still face charges for marijuana possession
Absent a prescription, individuals may still face drug possession charges if law enforcement finds them with marijuana. As noted on the Louisiana State Legislature website, RS 40:966 makes it unlawful for an individual to possess marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid with the intent of distributing it to others.
An individual alleged to have distributed marijuana to someone else may face possession and distribution charges. Manufacturing synthetic cannabis or cultivating marijuana for distribution may result in serious felony charges under Louisiana’s laws.
Evidence may counter a prosecutor’s allegations of intent to distribute
To convict, a prosecutor generally needs to prove that the defendant ran an illicit business by distributing a controlled substance. As explained by MarketWatch, proof of an intent to distribute may include an individual purchasing raw substances at a low price and then selling them at a higher price to generate a profit.
Although Louisiana decriminalized possession of raw marijuana in small quantities for medicinal purposes, users should remain aware they may still face serious charges related to distribution. To avoid a conviction, a charged individual may need to show evidence countering a prosecutor’s allegations of an intent to distribute.