Louisiana Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Marijuana Possession
According to the New Orleans Times-Picaynune, Cornell Hood II of Slidell, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, was found guilty of attempting to possess and distribute marijuana. He’d already been convicted of possession with the intent to distribute and distribution on two prior occasions in New Orleans, “crimes” for which he received a five-year suspended prison sentence and five years of probation.
But that was in New Orleans. After moving across the lake to more conservative St. Tammany Parish, Hood’s luck ran out when he was caught with nearly two pounds (0.9 kg) of pot in his home during a routine visit by parole officer Dustin Munlin last September. Munlin also found a digital scale and small bags full of marijuana in the home Hood shard with his mother and young son.
He was charged with one whole count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Jurors took less than two hours to deliberate before convicting Hood of a lesser charge that usually results in a maximum of 15 years behind bars. That’s still shockingly draconian considering that marijuana is a harmless substance that has been decriminalized in many states, but it is far short of the life sentence that Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea Jr. pressed for.
Louisiana has some of the most absurd drug laws in a country that prides itself on being tough on drugs. Three or more convictions can result in a life sentence. Hood, who is 35 years old, will likely die in prison as a result of the shamefully outdated and ignorant policies of his state government. Every year, 7,250 Louisianans die from tobacco-related illnesses. Thousands more die from alcohol-related ailments, including more than 400 from alcohol-related automobile accidents. Not one single death in the state has been attributable to marijuana use. Yet cigarettes and booze are perfectly legal in Louisiana (and every other state), while a man is about to rot in prison for the rest of his life over a harmless plant that millions of Americans use legally for medicinal as well as recreational purposes.
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