(Associated Press) Is 18 years in prison without the possibility of parole too harsh for a man arrested with 18 grams of marijuana? The Louisiana Supreme Court’s chief justice thinks so, and she blasted her colleagues for upholding the punishment.
In a withering dissent Wednesday, Chief Justice Bernette Johnson called it “outrageous” and “ridiculous” that the state’s highest court affirmed the lengthy prison sentence for such a small amount of marijuana — enough for at least 18 marijuana cigarettes.
A jury convicted Gary D. Howard of marijuana possession with intent to distribute and a Caddo Parish judge sentenced him as a habitual offender in 2014. Howard’s previous convictions include possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2008.
Johnson questioned whether it was a mere coincidence — or an “arbitrary” decision — that Howard’s sentence amounted to one year per gram of marijuana that police found during a 2013 search of his girlfriend’s home in Shreveport.