A 27-year old Louisiana man, Corey Ladd, has received a 20 year maximum sentence after he was found to be in possession of 15 grams of marijuana. Ladd did have prior drug convictions and is considered a “multiple offender” but many marijuana activists are outraged over the sentencing.
Louisiana is known for its especially strict marijuana laws. A first offense for marijuana possession can lead to six month in prison, while a second and third offense can net you five or twenty years in prison, respectively. The Louisiana Supreme Court also just overturned a sentence of five years as being too lenient after a fourth possession of marijuana and ordered that the person be held for thirteen years instead.
Each year, Louisiana arrests approximately 13,000 people for marijuana possession. 60% of those arrested are African Americans, even though only 32% of the state’s population is black. 84% of the arrests are for possession only.
Karen O’Keefe, who lived in New Orleans for years and now works as Director of State Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said “A sentence of 20 years in prison for possessing a substance that is safer that alcohol is out of step with Louisiana voters, national trends, and basic fairness and justice. Limited prison space and prosecutors’ time should be spent on violent and serious crime, not on prosecuting and incarcerating people who use a substance that nearly half of all adults have used.”
Defense lawyers are appealing the twenty year sentence for Ladd.