According to a new report, black people are almost three times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana. The data comes from a report published last Tuesday, September 18, by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The report is based on arrest data that police departments provided to the FBI. It presents, in plain numbers, some of the most incendiary and disturbing evidence in recent memory of the prevalence of racial profiling within our state’s police departments.
On average, black people in Louisiana are 2.9 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. In Baton Rouge and Gretna, black people are six and 4.7 times more likely, respectively.
The report also points out that black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates on average, according to federal survey data.
The trend is just one component of a pervasive, systemic mechanism of racism and repression poisoning the criminal justice system in Louisiana.
The SPLC’s report indicates: “…black adults comprised only 30.6% of Louisiana’s adult population but 53.7% of adults who were arrested and 67.5% of adults in prison. Overall, black adults are 4.3 times as likely as white adults to be serving a felony prison sentence in Louisiana.”
Oh, in case you forgot, we also have the second highest incarceration rate in the world.
The report, which you can read in full here, offers a stark and undeniable vision of racial profiling in police departments all across the state. The SPLC is doing the type of work necessary to try to tear down some of the long-standing legislation that perpetuates this cycle.
However, the road will be a long and hard one. As the report indicates, more than a third of the police departments in Louisiana admitted to having no policy whatsoever to address racial profiling.
Marijuana Charges In Louisiana
This report comes in the wake of recent legislation, passed earlier this summer, expanding legal access to marijuana across the state.
However, the new legislation only pertains to medical marijuana. Recreational use is still criminalized in most parts of the state. New Orleans, for its part, decriminalized minor possession in 2017.
Per NOLA.com, the ordinance allows for officers to use their own discretion when a person is over 17 and carrying less than 2.5 pounds. In other words, the officer may determine whether or not to arrest the individual or charge them a fine.
While ostensibly a step in the right direction, the SPLC’s report doesn’t leave one with a lot of faith in the police’s discretion.
The city’s marijuana laws may seem progressive compared to the rest of the state, but New Orleans still has some of the harshest penalties for possession in the country. Even first time offenders often end up serving jail time for possession.
The penalties in New Orleans for possession of marijuana are broken down below:
The penalties may increase for multiple offenders. If you are charged with intent to distribute or cultivation of marijuana your penalty will be greater as well.
Have You or a Loved One Been Charged With Possession?
If you or someone you know has been caught with marijuana or any other drug by police in the New Orleans area, we can help.
The experienced drug defense lawyers at Bloom Legal take a thorough and meticulous approach to drug arrests. We appreciate the often problematic approach the police take to drug users.
We will do everything in our power to fight your charges, or when necessary will negotiate for favorable plea arrangements to get your the most favorable outcome.
Call today for a free consultation and let us tell you how we can help.