20 Years For Pot Possession?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 24, 2008

    According to an investigative report by the New Orleans City Business newspaper, Orleans Parish District Attorney Keva Landrum-Johnson is routinely seeking five-to-20 years sentences for minor pot possession offenders.    

    Smoke Screen
    District attorney boosts felony convictions with marijuana cases

    via neworleanscitybusiness.com

    Shortly after Keva Landrum-Johnson took over as district attorney following Eddie Jordan’s resignation Oct. 30, hundreds of new felony cases flooded the public defenders office, overwhelming the 29 defense attorneys.

    … The flood of new felony charges didn’t target murderers, rapists or armed robbers — they targeted small-time marijuana users, sometimes caught with less than a gram of pot, and threatened them with lengthy prison sentences.

    The resulting impact has clogged the courts with non-violent, petty offenses, drained the resources of the criminal justice system and damaged low-income African-American communities.

    … Landrum-Johnson’s decision to accept felony charges on people arrested for second and third marijuana possession offenses is a dramatic break from the tactics of former DAs Jordan and Harry Connick.

    A first-time marijuana possession charge in Louisiana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison but typically results in a small fine. A second offense is a felony that can carry up to five years in jail and a third offense up to 20 years.

    Under Jordan and Connick, however, second and third offenses were routinely reduced to misdemeanors that typically did not require a trial. This freed up public resources to be spent on violent crimes as opposed to minor, victimless offenses.  

    Question: Who’s the real ‘bad guy’ here?

    The obvious answer is DA Landrum-Johnson, who is throwing the book at minor pot offenders in a cynical effort to appear ‘tough on crime’ and bolster her campaign for Criminal Court Judge.

    But the blame should not end with the DA. The true culprits responsible for this mess are the Louisiana lawmakers who, apparently, believe it’s quite alright for minor pot offenders to face up to 20 years in prison and a felony record.

    It’s not the responsibility of each individual DA to try and make rational sense out of what is clearly an irrational law. In fact, in an ironic twist, DA Landrum-Johnson’s actions may actually hasten statewide reforms in Louisiana by once and for all exposing the state’s dirty little secret: Louisiana possesses some of the most malevolent pot penalties in the country!

    Well, it’s time that we call them on it. Write or call your Louisiana state legislators and ask them if they believe that minor marijuana offenders should face five-to-20 years in prison. And if they don’t, then tell them to sponsor legislation in 2009 to make Louisiana’s absurd pot penalties a thing of the past.

    26 responses to “20 Years For Pot Possession?”

    1. James says:

      Just sickening. words just can’t describe this stupidity. 5-20yrs for minor pot possession, i think the District Attorney should be put behind bars for cruel and unusual punishment

    2. Joseph says:

      Finally some action in my state… it is sad that I am moving in a month and will not get to see this battle through. I have hope for the many of us here in Louisiana that we will change these laws. Onward to victory!

    3. Chris says:

      Are you fucking kidding me louisiana?!?! 5 to 20 years for minor possession?!? That’s absolutely ridiculous.

    4. Anthony says:

      “Just sickening. words just can’t describe this stupidity. 5-20yrs for minor pot possession, i think the District Attorney should be put behind bars for cruel and unusual punishment” – James


    5. Sean H says:

      I mean honestly these are the hurdles and trials that will be placed upon those who seek to end this tiring crusade of hypocrisy. Yes it’s stupid, yes it is out of control, and I can’t believe that another one of our resources on the state level is being used to incriminate innocent people. But what are we going to do about it? Louisiana state residents, PLEASE do your part and call your legislator, no it won’t change anything, but at least you’re making your voice heard.

    6. Eddie says:

      What to do? ???…Vote! Not only with a ballot, but with your taxes, your business, with your choice of states to live in. Yes, this is a major pain, to move out of your state, relocate, change jobs, etc… However 20 years spent in a hole is also a major pain.
      There are states which have decriminalized minor possession. Move there!! Don’t support states that take away your freedom for political reasons. Support those states which are governed by laws which reflect the choices of the people!

    7. Lindsay says:

      Anyone that lives in Louisiana and hates the evils laws… you know to do… PROTEST! Right on the DA’s doorsteps! Show them how you really feel! (Oh and the next election, vote that SOB out of office)

    8. anthony says:

      ok that is just fucking crazy 5-20 years for MINOR possession. i can understand if the people they catch had bails and bails of it bot for minor possession that is outrageous not only is it setting court dates back for those who commit serious crimes (such as murder,rape,or people who actually carry/sell drigs that can kill you) this is my opinion pot should be legal for those of us who are over 18/21 and in small amounts(no more then say a QP at a time) the goverment should just get smart realize that we are not going to give up they should face that fact and just start making money off of it for the country they will have more money for better school hospitals plus lower property taxes along with state taxes if they started selling it its all profit and if the drug company objects heres the solution to that have to gov. grow it then have the drug companys sell it that way everyone is happy. sell the hemp plants to the oil company and have them make a better and cheaper fuel. that way everyone is happy………sry that was long and kinda jumps from subject to subject but thats my opinion

    9. Michael says:

      Why don’t they look at the deputy district of Orange County California who 8-10 years ago was convicted for helping aid in distributing meth. These same politicians that want to ban pot, are promoting and consuming worse.

    10. bob says:

      I live in Louisiana, and was actually arrested about 2 weeks ago for my first offense of minor possession. I was essentially coerced into telling cops that I had pot on me, as they searched me and my car, claiming that they saw me “put something under the seat” (which I clearly did not, as they did not find anything under the seat). All I have to say is I’m losing more and more faith in my state by the day. With our new DA, I certainly wouldn’t mind moving somewhere else, but I don’t have the resources (money, basically) to relocate, so that just isn’t an option. But if there is any pro-marijuana legislation, I will most certainly vote against our current inane laws until I can get my ass out of here.