Is marijuana legal in Louisiana?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.
Medical marijuana is legal in Louisiana, but recreational marijuana is not.
Louisiana has licensed nine medical marijuana pharmacies (what other states call dispensaries), and two growers to serve the entire state.
Louisiana observes a sliding scale of penalties for cannabis possession. First-time offenders in possession of 14 grams of cannabis or less may be fined up to $300, and imprisoned for up to 15 days.
- First-time offenders found with larger amounts of up to 2.5 pounds receive a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of six months in prison.
- Second convictions are penalized more harshly. Individuals found with less than 2.5 pounds may be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned for up to two years.
- Third convictions for less than 2.5 pounds receive a fine of up to $2,500 and up to two years in prison. Larger quantities of cannabis and repeat convictions result in larger fines and longer sentences.
The punishment for the distribution or sale of cannabis increases for repeat offenses.
- First convictions receive five to 30 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine, regardless of the quantity being distributed.
- Second convictions result in 10 to 60 years in prison, and a maximum $100,000 fine. Individuals caught distributing cannabis to children may receive severe penalties.
Although Louisiana residents have indicated support for the legalization of recreational cannabis, it’s not an issue that legislators have pursued. A 2020 measure did, however, request a study to explore the impact of cannabis legalization in Louisiana, but failed before progressing for further debate.
Small amounts of cannabis have not been decriminalized in Louisiana. However, in New Orleans, the city council unanimously passed an ordinance that decriminalized cannabis possession in 2016. Police officers appear to be abiding by the regulation as arrests have dramatically decreased.
Louisiana medical marijuana laws
Louisiana legalized medical marijuana in 2015 with the passage of Act 261, which became known as the Alison Neustrom Act.
Constrictive wording, specifically the use of the word “prescribe,” meant that the act was limited in its usefulness. Physicians can’t write prescriptions for cannabis due to the Schedule I status of cannabis at a federal level, although they can recommend it.
In 2016, the state passed and signed two companion bills, Act 96 and Act 343. These bills corrected the language in the act, established legal protection for patients, and increased the qualifying conditions.
In 2020, the act was further amended. Act 286 expanded access to medical marijuana, allowing doctors to recommend medical cannabis for any condition that is debilitating to a patient, provided that the doctor is qualified to treat that illness.
In June 2021, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 391, which legalized the dispensing, purchasing, and usage of medical cannabis in flower form.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, patients are able to obtain 2.5 ounces of flower every two weeks from their pharmacist.
Other acceptable product forms include oils, extracts, tinctures, sprays, capsules, pills, solutions, suspension, gelatin-based chewables, lotions, transdermal patches, and suppositories. Cannabis can be sourced from Louisiana’s state-controlled marijuana pharmacies.
Louisiana qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Louisiana removed restrictions from its list of qualifying illnesses following the passing of Act 286 in 2020.
The act states that any physician recognized by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners may recommend medical cannabis to any patient suffering from a debilitating medical condition. The patient must have a bona fide relationship with the doctor.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Louisiana
Similar to states like Minnesota, Louisiana doesn’t offer a medical marijuana card. Approved medical marijuana patients instead have their name added to the statewide medical cannabis patient registry.
Here are the steps to have your name added to the patient registry:
- Find a certified physician. Doctors who can recommend medical marijuana must be certified by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. You can look for doctors with a “therapeutic marijuana registration permit” on this database. Patients can also choose to go to a medical marijuana clinic that specializes in cannabis treatments. If you opt to schedule an appointment at one of these clinics, you’ll need your medical records on hand.
- Be evaluated by a certified physician. When you attend the appointment, you’ll need relevant medical records, government-issued ID, and documentation that establishes your status as a Louisiana resident. The physician will evaluate you and determine whether medical marijuana is a good fit for your needs.
- Have your name added to the registry. If the certified physician makes a recommendation, your name will be added to a statewide medical cannabis patient registry. You’ll also receive a recommendation to take to a state-licensed medical cannabis pharmacy of your choice. There are currently nine licensed pharmacies in Louisiana.
Does Louisiana accept out-of-state medical cards?
Louisiana does not accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards.
When does my Louisiana medical marijuana card expire?
Medical marijuana cards aren’t used in Louisiana. The state’s medical marijuana act doesn’t discuss expiration dates for patients registered in the medical marijuana program.
Louisiana marijuana growing laws
Medical marijuana patients in Louisiana are not permitted to cultivate their own cannabis.
Louisiana public consumption laws
Louisiana’s 2015 medical marijuana act doesn’t issue any guidelines regarding public cannabis consumption by patients. Act 343, which passed in 2016, provides more specific protection for patients, however. Registered patients with approved forms of cannabis are protected from prosecution for the possession or distribution of cannabis, as long as it adheres to the state program.
Public use and consumption of cannabis isn’t specifically mentioned in the state’s legislation regarding controlled substances. Still, the statute does indicate penalties for the possession, production, manufacturing, and distribution of cannabis.
Louisiana cannabis DUI laws
It’s illegal to drive under the influence even in states where medical marijuana is legal. Drivers in Louisiana have implied consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine to determine alcohol levels or the presence of controlled substances.
Individuals who are convicted of driving while impaired by controlled substances are punishable by the following penalties:
- First offense: A mandatory minimum of 10 days to six months in jail; a $300 to $1,000 fine; participation in a court-ordered substance abuse program; and participation in a court-ordered driver improvement program. All but 48 hours’ jail time may be suspended in lieu of community service.
- Second offense: A mandatory minimum of 30 days to six months in jail with 48 hours served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence; 240 hours of community service; a $750 to $1000 fine; participation in a court-ordered substance abuse program; and participation in a driver improvement program.
- Third offense: A mandatory minimum of one year up to five years in jail which may be suspended if the offender is accepted into a drug division probation program; a $2,000 fine; participation in a driver improvement program; participation in a substance abuse treatment program; and 240 hours of community service.
Louisiana cannabis testing regulations
The Louisiana Department of Health and Board of Pharmacy established an extensive code in 2017 regarding cannabis testing regulations. According to the code, homogeneous batches of cannabis must be tested for potency, pesticide ingredients, residual solvents, heavy metals, and mycotoxins.
Products must also be packaged so that one dose contains no more than 10 milligrams of THC. Louisiana currently has no independent cannabis testing agencies, an issue that has created some consternation among growers.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Louisiana
Can medical patients grow in Louisiana?
No, medical patients are not permitted to cultivate their own cannabis.
Is Louisiana a medical state?
Yes, medical cannabis is legal in Louisiana.
Can you get a medical card with a felony in Louisiana?
Louisiana’s medical cannabis act does not preclude individuals with felony convictions from becoming registered for medical marijuana.
Can you get a medical card for anxiety in Louisiana?
Possibly. Certified physicians are permitted to use their discretion when recommending medical marijuana. Act 286 states that any physician recognized by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners may recommend medical cannabis to patients suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Can you smoke cannabis in Louisiana?
No. The acceptable forms of delivery include oils, extracts, tinctures, sprays, capsules, pills, solutions, suspension, gelatin-based chewables, lotions, transdermal patches, and suppositories.
Can minors register for medical marijuana in Louisiana?
Yes, with the permission of a parent or guardian.
Learn more about marijuana legalization in Louisiana
If you’d like to learn more about cannabis laws and legalization in Louisiana, you can check out these trusted sources: