February 24, 2017
Marijuana law is on shaky ground. On February 23, 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced that the Department of Justice would be stepping up enforcement of federal law in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. While this move is not surprising given Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ historical distaste for marijuana, it is disappointing. So far, 8 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. This means that it is legal to sell and use weed in these states without a prescription.
However, the use, possession, and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. This means that you can still be arrested and jailed by federal authorities for using, selling, or buying weed. This is true even in states where marijuana is legal. Previously, the Department of Justice was not putting much effort into going after people living in states with legal marijuana. The announcement by Sean Spicer signals a shift in enforcement priority. There is also concern that if the federal government starts cracking down on weed, then it will slow or halt progress in other states thinking about legalizing marijuana.
Meanwhile, here in Louisiana, the Southern University Agricultural Center has recently put out the call for a vendor to run its medical marijuana program. Louisiana has taken small steps to approve the use of medical marijuana. So far, the only delivery method allowed will be cannabis oil. And prescriptions will only be offered for a few medical conditions. LSU and Southern were both offered the exclusive right to grow marijuana in Louisiana. The medical marijuana contract with Southern would be for five years. The initial investment would be for between $5 and $7 million. Over 30 vendors have expressed interest in running the program at Southern.
Marijuana law is a challenging area. The overall trend has been toward legalization. It is unknown whether that trend will reverse if the Department of Justice starts enforcing federal law. If you have any questions about marijuana law in Louisiana, please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your concern: 504-368-8440.