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Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Louisiana Man Gets 13-Year Prison Sentence For Two Marijuana Joints

jail prison daniel chong deaNEW ORLEANS—The Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus brief today urging the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the egregious prison sentence of Bernard Noble, a 48-year old man who was sentenced to 13.3 years of hard labor in prison without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes.

Noble’s original sentencing judge considered the 13 and a third-year sentence egregious and imposed a sentence of five years of hard labor. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney wasn’t satisfied with this punishment and appealed the sentence. Ultimately, the district attorney sought and obtained a prison term of close to triple the sentence imposed by the original sentencing judge.

“Thirteen years in prison for two joints is obscene,” said Daniel Abrahamson, director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance and a lead author of the brief.  “The punishment is so far out of proportion to the conduct that we really can’t call it ‘punishment’ – it is more like torture.”

While Noble has two prior low-level nonviolent drug offenses that occurred 8 and 20 years respectively before his arrest in this case, he has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of drugs for personal use.  Because of these prior, albeit dated drug offenses Mr. Noble fell within Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Statute, which brings his sentence for his marijuana possession offense to thirteen and one-third years and deprived him of the opportunity for earlier release on parole.

The Drug Policy Alliance filed the amicus brief on behalf of DPA, the Micah Project, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Reason Foundation, and the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. It highlights how Louisiana’s sentencing scheme for marijuana possession offenses is grossly disproportionate to the average sentence of marijuana offenders based on national standards and comparative state laws. In stark contrast to Louisiana, many states have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use, with the offense being punishable by a fine and with no threat of jail time.  And two states have outright legalized, taxed and regulated the cultivation, sale, possession and use of marijuana by and for adults.

“The sentence inflicted by Louisiana in this case for simple, low-level marijuana possession, on a gainfully employed father with absolutely no history any serious or violent crime, cannot be justified by any measure,” said Abrahamson.  “It does not enhance public safety.  It will destroy Mr. Noble and his family.  And it flies in the face of what Louisianans believe. “

Indeed, Noble’s sentence also runs counter to public opinion.  Independent public opinion polling undertaken in July and August 2013 by Public Policy Polling (“PPP”) underscores that Louisiana voters, by strong majorities, oppose lengthy prison terms for simple marijuana possession, including persons caught possessing marijuana on multiple occasions.

Further, there is gross racial disparity in the rates of arrest for marijuana possession.  African Americans are 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites in Louisiana, and 61 percent of marijuana arrests are of African Americans while only 32 percent of Louisiana’s population is African American.

“Finally, Mr. Noble’s prison sentence for possessing two joints will cost Louisiana taxpayers nearly one-quarter of a million dollars and will add to the majority of nonviolent offenders who currently fill Louisiana’s prisons,” Abrahamson said. “In fact, only 17 percent of the state’s prison inmates have committed violent crimes, whereas fully one quarter of the state’s prison population is there for drug crimes.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

  • From New Orleans

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAlZafdZf0c This seemed to be ok in New Orleans….. go figure?

    • dfkgjuiglret

      I love pot and think it should be legalized but driving a tokin…no good man.

      • Michael Arnelle

        Cool thanks for watching, it was only for the video shoot lol

  • whatthefuk

    The cops could have saved someone being robbed, killed, hurt, and saving a life. Instead they get 4 cops cars, sit for a couple hours doing paperwork, and sentence a man who did no harm to 13 years. Great job Louisiana, the streets are so much more fucking safe now.

  • Uncle Arthur

    Louisiana is still stuck in the 1980’s sophmoric “Do Drugs Do Time” snit.

  • Jacob

    Reform Louisiana now! Their marijuana laws there are like Saudi Arabia! NO felony for marijuana possession. We need to decriminalize, then work on medical, and then recreational for Louisiana. The polls show the support too.

  • Ron

    How does it feel, LA? You’re even way behind MS on this matter.

    • Uncle Arthur

      I live in Louisiana and we’re even behind North Korea on this matter.

  • Charles Edson Rogers Jr.

    Louisiana sucks do not go there And move away from there ASAP

    • Michael Arnelle

      ^ I don’t know about all that

    • Your mother

      Haha. You couldn’t survive here princess.

      • Charles Edson Rogers Jr.

        Princess your faggity ass.I have been to La. it is filthy dirty.Holiday Inn still had black mold years after Katrina and the LEO’s have an erection for cannabis users..kinda like Your Mother…except he/she has a stiffy for men of all ages.

  • Arkansas is not much better there getting the most out of it before medical marijuana is legal here. Its so sad that we are persecuted and oppressed the way we are. And if you smoke weed apparently we use meth and everything else by the way these rednecks up here in BENTON county wanna act. Guilty by association apperently

  • David

    Okay…. so your telling me that D.A in ALABAMA sentence that FATHER for some pot (medically used in many states) but won’t don’t anything to somebody who practices bestiality (sex with animals) ????? Okay Albanians, keep impregnate your family!!!

  • Choom Gang

    Is this why southerners, like Alex Jones, is always PO’d at the cops?

  • Herers Angels

    Sell Louisiana to Mexico!

  • Somebody must be making money from filled-up prisons in Louisiana! Born on a Bayou …..

    • Pu-239

      Probably, it’s probably a for profit prison. Honestly, for profit prisons live human rights violations like this because it makes them money.

  • Farrok

    What happened to this man is a rape of Justice. A few States away it’s completely legal. This is serious, Americans are still going to prison over Pot laws. These Law are unjust and serve no purpose whatsoever. Anyone who reads this Vote to abolish these evil Laws. These Law are used as ammunition against minorities and the Poor. These Law harm our young people and serve no purpose except as a crowbar to attack the Poor and minority American.

  • hanspy

    Just simple plain stupid from the court. And they wonder why ppl stop trusting the law and there followers? When that man was my family. I will not rest to get real justice . A dead judge will do. That is how I think about it. Just my two cent.