Possession of a Controlled Substance in Louisiana

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All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. Louisiana classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the possession of CDS for personal use only. Making and selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal manufacture and sale of CDS, and the related penalties, see Sale of a Controlled Substance Louisiana.

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Louisiana’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Louisiana Marijuana Laws.

How Louisiana Classifies CDS

Louisiana divides CDS into five “schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse; and increase in recognized medical uses.

These schedules are also used to determine the applicable penalties for illegally possessing specific CDS (described in the next section). If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the Louisiana Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 964) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the five Schedules.

Penalties for Illegal CDS Possession

It is illegal in Louisiana to possess CDS without a valid prescription. Penalties vary according to the Schedule and amount of the CDS involved. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 967.)

Schedule I Substances

Penalties vary according to the specific CDS involved, and usually include a fine of at least $5,000 (and sometimes as much as $600,000); at least four (and sometimes up to 30 years) in prison; or both. However, some substances incur even greater specified minimum penalties. For example, possessing 400 grams or more of a narcotic drug in Schedule I incurs a minimum fine of $250,000 (and up to ($600,000), a minimum prison sentence of 15 (and up to 30) years, or both. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 966.)

Schedule II Substances

Penalties vary according to the specific CDS involved, and usually include a fine of $5,000 or more (and sometimes as much as $600,000); five or more (sometimes up to 30) years in prison; or both. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 967.)

Schedule III Substances

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 968.)

Schedule IV Substances

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both. However, convictions involving Flunitrazepam incur a fine of up to $5,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 969.)

Schedule V Substances

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 970.)

Second and Subsequent Offenses

A defendant convicted of a second or subsequent offense will face twice the applicable fine, prison term, or both, as described above, according to the Schedule and substance involved in the violation. (40 La. Stat. Ann. § 982.)

Talk to an Attorney

CDS manufacture or sale convictions incur both heavy fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

by: , Contributing Author

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