louisiana

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Louisiana: Rally In New Orleans To Call For Clemency For Man Serving 13 Years For Marijuana Possession

BernardNoble-13YearsFor2.8Grams

Criminal justice stakeholders, New Orleans city Council members, sentencing reform advocates, community activists, concerned citizens, friends and family will gather on Saturday, March 7, to rally support for clemency for Bernard Noble, currently serving 13.3 years for 2.8 grams for marijuana.

Noble, a 48-year old father of seven, was arrested while riding his bike when officers discovered 2.8 grams of marijuana, the equivalent of two to three marijuana cigarettes. Characterizing Noble as “exceptional,” two Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judges departed from the mandatory minimal sentence stating “Mr. Noble’s inevitable incarceration will be a greater punishment for his children than for himself,” and Noble’s “particular circumstance is the rare exceptional situation and does not represent the type of individual contemplated by the legislature when assigning sentences.”

Using simple possession convictions from 1991 and 2003, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office charged Noble under the habitual offender law and sought the mandatory minimum sentence despite the trail judges’ disapproval and disagreement with the length of punishment. Trial judges twice departed from sentencing Noble to the state requested mandatory minimum of 13 years and four months and sentenced him to 5 years.

Louisiana: Man Given 13 Year Prison Sentence For Two Joints

MarijuanaLegalize!BehindBars

Amicus brief by Drug Policy Alliance Highlights Why Sentence is Cruel & Unusual and Urges Louisiana Supreme Court to Review Mr. Noble’s Sentence

The Drug Policy Alliance on Wednesday filed an amicus brief urging the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the egregious prison sentence of Bernard Noble, a 48-year old man who was sentenced to 13.3 years of hard labor in prison without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes.

Two cops spotted Noble riding a bicycle down South Miro Street in New Orleans in 2010, reports Bruce Barcott at Rolling Stone. They ordered Noble to stop, and frisked him. They found a small bag containing less than three grams of marijuana.

Noble’s original sentencing judge considered the 13 and a third-year sentence egregious and imposed a sentence of five years of hard labor. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney wasn’t satisfied with this punishment and appealed the sentence. Ultimately, the district attorney sought and obtained a prison term of close to triple the sentence imposed by the original sentencing judge.

“Thirteen years in prison for two joints is obscene,” said Daniel Abrahamson, director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and a lead author of the brief.

Louisiana: Marijuana Legalization Activists Attend Legislative Opening

LegalizeLouisiana

Citizens Demanding Due Diligence, Full and Immediate Restoration of Natural Rights to Cannabis

Not in small part for the dedicated work of the diligent citizens of Legalize Louisiana, the state Legislature has multiple bills to restore cannabis rights. Advocacy group Legalize Louisiana says it is "trying to make sure the full restoration of natural rights is achieved."

Legalize Louisiana called all citizens to the Capitol on Monday "to ensure, from the start, that this year's Legislature ends cannabis prohibition, for health and justice in Louisiana."

Responsible citizens brought the research and testimony "exposing the current laws and policies as unjust, illegal, unscientific and irrational, unconstitutional, inhumane, and unacceptable," according to Legalize Louisiana. Lawmakers were "drawn clear solutions based on the promised rights to peace and prosperity for all," according to the group.

Community members gathered at the Capitol steps at 8:30 AM, to share their testimonies and pleas for justice, and at the Legislature’s opening, submitted facts and researches attesting to the abuses now being permitted under color of law. "Nothing short of due diligence will be allowed; law and policy must respect the highest and most basic natural and common, State and Federal Constitutional, and human rights to use cannabis for any bona-fide medical reason," the group said in a prepared statement.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Says Medical Marijuana OK If Tightly Controlled

LouisianaGovernorBobbyJindal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said on Wednesday that he supports making medical marijuana available in Louisiana, as long as it is tightly controlled.

"I continue to be opposed to the legalization of marijuana," Jindal said during an event at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, reports the Associated Press. "When it comes to medical marijuana ... if there is a legitimate medical need, I'd certainly be open to making it available under very strict supervision for patients that would benefit from that."

Jindal said that to be acceptable to him, a proposal would have to put marijuana use under a doctor's care and that the program would have to be closely monitored to prevent abuse.

Medical marijuana advocates were happy that Jindal said he had an open mind on the issue.

"That's huge," said Marjorie Esman, executive director for the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. While Louisiana has a 1991 law on the books allowing medical marijuana, Esman said the law is unworkable, making it impossible for patients to actually get cannabis.

The 1991 law calls for patients with glaucoma, chemotherapy and spastic quadriplegia to receive marijuana for therapeutic use. The bill depended on Louisiana's secretary of health and hospitals devising rules and regulations by January 1, 1992; apparently those rules were never written.

Louisiana: Citizens Tell Lawmakers 'We Want Medical Marijuana'

LouisianaCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana residents, tired of being left out of the wave of change sweeping across the U.S. and the globe, came to Baton Rouge en masse on Tuesday to tell state lawmakers why they believe marijuana should be legalized for medical or recreational use. The citizens weren't able to get many legislators to endorse the cause; Louisiana still allows repeat offenders to get life imprisonment for simple cannabis possession.

Tuesday's informational meeting of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice was convened at the request of state Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) to discuss the feasibility of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, reports Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times Picayune.

For nearly four hours, members of the public passionately advocated legalization, while law enforcement officials opposed the move and politicians equivocated. By the end of the hearing, Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) said Louisiana lawmakers probably wouldn't support legalization.

"I'm not sure if the Legislature is ready for any kind of legalization," Badon said. He is once again sponsoring a bill to reduce the penalties for those convicted on repeated charges of simple marijuana possession. Louisiana has become infamous worldwide for the extreme harshness of its cannabis possession penalties, including life imprisonment for multiple convictions.

Florida: Couple Accidentally Brings Home 11 Pounds of Marijuana From Louisiana

SuitcaseFullOfMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Florida couple accidentally brought home an 11-pound stash of marijuana when they returned from Louisiana, according to police.

The husband and wife carried the weed on a 900-mile trip before getting back home to Key Largo, Florida, at which point they finally found it inside two mysterious suitcases, reports Doyle Murphy at the New York Daily News. Instead of throwing a party, the easily alarmed couple called the sheriff's department.

"This could have been really bad," claimed Monroe County Sheriff Sgt. Al Ramirez. "These people were traveling all over with this stuff in their truck. If they had been pulled over with it, they could have would up in jail and their truck may have been seized." Well, Sheriff, maybe it shouldn't be against the law, eh?

It all began back in July when an unidentified package showed up at one of the couple's rental properties in Louisiana. The husband instructed a housekeeper to ship it back to UPS. The cleaning lady did return the box, but it was later shipped back to the rental again, and she put it inside, the husband told a deputy.

When the couple took a trip to check on their vacation properties in Louisiana, the box was still there. They opened it and found two locked blue suitcases inside.

Louisiana: Sheriff Finds 20,000 Marijuana Plants In Vernon Parish

MarijuanaPlantsVernonParishLA

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana recently found two marijuana cultivation operations, seizing almost 20,000 plants they claimed were worth more than $30,000, according to a press release from the office.

The first grow op was found on June 14, and narcotics agents with the sheriff's office pulled up more than 6,800 plants, which they claimed were worth more than $10,000, reports The Town Talk.

The second discovery was about five miles away, and, according to the release, was found by the Sheriff's Office narcotics task force, Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana National Guard.

To find these supposedly "dangerous" marijuana plants, law enforcement used expensive, high-tech equipment including "aviation assets." The pilots flew from two miles away and guided snipers from the Louisiana State Police into position using real-time video imagery and radio communication (remember, taxpayers: you are paying for all of this stupidity).

"We provided aircraft at night with an IR (infrared) camera to see how many people were working in the plot," bragged Lt. Col. Dallas Jones, deputy counterdrug coordinator. "This is the largest find the LANG [Louisiana National Guard] Counterdrug has ever assisted in.

Louisiana: Mother Arrested After 14-Month-Old Tests Positive For Marijuana

JaraniqueGoins

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Louisiana mother is facing charges after her 14-month-old baby tested positive for marijuana, according to the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office.

Jaranique Goins, 21, said the baby boy "may have eaten remains of pot cigarettes she threw in the back yard after smoking," said Sheriff James Pohlmann, reports WWL TV.

Deputies were called after Goins and her mother brought the baby to St. Bernard Hospital early Friday morning. Goins told doctors the 14-month-old boy had been unresponsive while in his bed.

The baby was in good condition, but tests showed he had marijuana in his system. The child has already been released from the hospital, according to Pohlmann.

To anyone who knows very much about cannabis, it's no surprise that the baby was unharmed. The body's natural endocannabinoids are vital for health, and in fact are present in mothers' breast milk, where they serve as an appetite stimulant, among other important functions.

The mother told deputies she had smoked marijuana and had thrown the roaches in her back yard, according to Pohlmann. Goins said she believes the boy may have eaten one of the joint butts, since he plays outside in the yard.

"This was irresponsible behavior on her part, but fortunately the child has been checked out at Children's Hospital and was later released," Pohlmann said.

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Dies; Falls Short By Two Votes

LouisianaMarijuana

You Can Still Get 20 Years For Simple Possession of Marijuana in Louisiana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession died on the Louisiana Senate floor on Thursday after lawmakers tried three times to get the votes necessary to begin debate.

Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), who tried twice on Wednesday and once more on Thursday to get the 26 votes needed, was heard to say "I'm done. That's it," as he walked away from the podium on Thursday, reports Lauren McGaughy of the New Orleans Times Picayune. The final effort fell short by just two votes.

House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), needed a two-thirds vote of state senators to even be brought up for debate, since it came up after the deadline for normal passage of bills in this year's legislative session.

Opponents claimed the bill would send "the wrong message that it's OK to smoke marijuana in Louisiana." Lawmakers reportedly chuckled and rolled their eyes as Morrell took to the podium on Thursday to rally votes for the bill. Families of those incarcerated for 20 years or more for marijuana possession -- including a few prisoners who got life sentences for pot under the state's habitual offender law -- were less amused.

"I heard the groaning," Morrell said. "I hear the inhaling and exhaling. I think it would be appropriate to at least attempt to have debate on this bill."

Louisiana: Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties Goes Before Full Senate

LouisianaMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession in Louisiana passed a legislative hurdle on Tuesday. House Bill 103 was approved in a Senate judicial committee and sent to the floor of the full Senate. If approved there, the bill would go to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), would lessen the jail time and fines imposed on people convicted of simple marijuana possession, reports Lauren McGaughy of The New Orleans Times Picayune.

Badon said the bill would "keep families together, to keep people [from] going on the unemployment rolls," speaking before the Senate Judiciary C Committee on Tuesday. According to Badon, keeping people charged with marijuana possession out of jail would save Louisiana taxpayers $2.2 million in incarceration costs; the bill's fiscal note backs up his assertion.

The lowered penalties would not apply to those charged with intent to distribute or to those in possession of synthetic products like K2 or Spice.

Louisiana: Bill Which Would Have Reduced Marijuana Penalties Gets Majority Support; Fails Anyway

(Graphic: Disinfo.com)Bill Would Have Ended Life Sentences For Marijuana In Louisiana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislation that would have reduced Louisiana's draconian marijuana penalties found a majority of support in the state House of Representatives on a 46-45 vote -- but it failed anyway, because House rules require any bill to pass with a simple majority of total House members, making 53 votes necessary to enact a new law.

The bill would have greatly reduced prison sentences and fines for marijuana offenders in the state. On May 21 it went to the House floor for the third reading; the final 46-45 vote was tantalizingly close to changing the face of marijuana enforcement in Louisiana.

HB 103 would have concentrated more on fines and less on prison sentences than the current law, and thus would have helped reduce Louisiana's world-record prison population with more realistic sentencing guidelines, reports William Dilella at NOLA Defender.

The law, notably, would also have created separation between penalties for marijuana and its synthetic imitators such as Spice and K2, which have been shown to have actual side effects and can create legitimate health concerns.

Louisiana: Bill Advances To Soften Marijuana Penalties

(Graphic: Disinfo.com)Cannabis Possession Can Get You 20 Years For Third Offense Under Current Louisiana Law

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After debating for for more than an hour on Wednesday, a Louisiana House committee advanced a bill that would soften the state's penalties for marijuana possession.

The sticking point in House Bill 103, reports Michelle Millhollow of The Advocate, was how to address habitual offenders and other already convicted marijuana offenders.

Current Louisiana law requires a third or subsequent marijuana possession conviction to be punished by up to 20 years in prison. The felony conviction can also be used to enhance the prison sentence when offenders have at least two other felony convictions.

Louisiana prosecutors sometimes use marijuana possession charges to send offenders to prison for life under the state's Three Strikes habitual offender law.

HB 103 sponsor Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) wants to allow those in jail for marijuana possession to be able to ask the court to reconsider their sentences. He also wants to stop prosecutors from sending marijuana possession offenders to prison for life as habitual offenders.

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