Louisiana just proved how cruel the drug war can be, as the state’s Supreme Court upheld an 18-year prison sentence without possibility of parole – for possessing 18 grams of cannabis. In 2014, Gary Howard was convicted of “marijuana possession with intent to distribute” and a Caddo parish judge handed down the harsh sentence, labeling him as a “habitual offender” for a 2008 firearm possession conviction.

The Supreme Court was convinced that the ‘intent to distribute’ charge was justified because Howard had the pot in five separate bags, even though “a prosecution expert conceded the marijuana could have been for Howard’s personal use” and “acknowledged it was possible the marijuana was purchased in the same form that police found it.”

Chief Justice Bernette Johnson blasted the “outrageous” judgment of her colleagues, who made an arbitrary decision to ruin Howard’s life.


As a practical matter, in light of the inconsequential amount of marijuana found, imprisoning defendant for this extreme length of time at a cost of about $23,000 per year (costing our state over $400,000 in total) provides little societal value and only serves to further burden our financially strapped state and its tax payers,” wrote Johnson.

“Legally, the state proved nothing more than simple possession of marijuana in this case.”

Johnson went on to suggest that authorities “overreacted” because a firearm was found during Howard’s arrest, resulting in a charge for which he was later acquitted.

The fact that, in one state a person can be locked in a cage for 18 years for possessing a plant, while in other states a person can go to a store and legally buy the same amount of the plant, underscores a broken, thoroughly corrupt system.

For decades government has carried out an immoral War on Drugs, created for the purpose of stifling dissent, oppressing minorities and enriching the corporatocracy. To this day, federal government maintains cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic, and we see prohibition serving the same goals.

Even though most states have acknowledged the medical benefits of cannabis, legalizing its use, the feds continue a policy of deliberate ignorance – and it’s no coincidence that Big Pharma profits from prohibition. This is why pharma companies lobbied against state legalization efforts, admitting that legal cannabis threatens their profits.

The Louisiana Supreme Court decision shows that the Reefer Madness mentality is alive and well in the cretins that inhabit the halls of ‘justice.’ Even as 60 percent of Americans now think recreational cannabis should be legal, arbiters of ‘justice’ have no reservations about locking people in cages for possessing said plant.

The silver lining is that judges such as Bernette Johnson are not afraid to point out the absurdity of these sentences, which can only be called a war on people.

  • JSC1227

    Pretty insane penality, couldnt he just pick up garbage on the side of the road for few weeks and save the tax payer hundreds of thousands of dollars and save a mans life. some child molesters, crooked politicians that steal millions , murders, dont get penalized this severely

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      Why is slave labor an acceptable alternative to prison? Couldn’t he just be left the fuck alone?

  • Gordon Klock

    Disproportionate punishment for something so trivial, makes one wonder if he did something to seriously anger the judge, that we don’t know about…
    (Even for such a notoriously corrupt, cannabis hostile, state, like Louisiana)…

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      What color is he? Sometimes that’s all it takes to infuriate a judge!

      • Will Ewing Sr

        Take a simple wild ass guess, or SWAG, as we used to call it in the Army.

  • Gaylen Allen Anderson

    Just think if Howard had distributed the killer weed into his community and what the consequences would have been. Total chaos likely! Just look at all the devastation that happened to Colorado when they legalized marijuana! The whole state went to pot! We can thank our lucky stars that redneck conservative bigots are watching over us.

  • foodforthought

    No one should promote the canard that marijuana is socially undesirable, or dangerous–inherently toxic–like pharmaceutical drugs. Or even that it is a ‘drug’, except in Merriam-Webster’s third and broadest definition, as something which affects the mind. By that definition, religion and television (‘the plug-in drug’) should also be included. In truth marijuana is a medicinal herb, cultivated, bred, and evolved in service to human beings over thousands of years.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Ehrlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011, a study at the University of Colorado found that in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Researchers in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries have discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. In 1936 Sula Benet, a Polish anthropologist, traced the history of the word “marijuana”. It was “cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times, it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. And Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    Don’t want it in your neighborhood? Maybe you’re not the Christian you thought you were.

    Me? I’m appalled at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

  • Jbh Jozza

    Burn the judge and Strip his assets for crimes against humanity.

  • Carl-Edward

    The drug laws – in common with most other laws – are absurd. They provide an already – corrupt police force with an easy means of enriching themselves through: ‘asset forfeiture’, and a superb platform for those sanctimonious criminals euphemistically referred to as the representatives of the people, to preach rubbish.

    This country bears the taint of an ugly Puritan tradition, and one hopes the drug laws will meet the same fate as Prohibition. (How amusing to think that the foul, deranged criminal Nixon, should have initiated the so-called War On Drugs!)

    Wherever there is government, there will be corruption.

  • Maurice Dutton

    There is no rationality to imposing such a harsh sentence on this man. It destroys his future. It burdens his family if he had one by denying the bread winner the ability to provide for their family and also it costs the state a huge amount of money that would be better directed at harm reduction. Marijuana use is one of the most harmless substances that can be used by a multitude of people who usually sit down in front of the TV and munch on a pack of cheeses or something similar. I can’t help but wonder if there was a racial profile involved or a socio-economic one in this most harsh and unjust sentence.

  • Robert Farrior

    The drug war tyranny must end!
    Revolution NOW!
    All those in power must be removed from power, and they will be! And that includes the villains in the judicial branch! They must not only be removed; they must be punished for their crimes against freedom, justice and humanity!
    As for the industries and companies that have worked to perpetuate the tyranny, foremost among which is the pharmaceutical industry, they must be and will be utterly destroyed!

  • Jim

    Do the crime, do the time. Being black is not an excuse to break the law.

    • Nathan Wymore

      No, but apparently if you are a politician or someone with wealth or power, that gives them an excuse to break the law! Come on man, don’t be soo blind. ‘Do the crime, do the time’…… you really think 18 years is an acceptable punishment for having 18 grams of weed?! I just read that a cop raped, and beat a teen, plead guilty to it, and only got 6 months of probation, NO JAIL TIME! He did the crime, how come he isn’t doing the time!?!? Open your eyes Jim to what is gong on around you.

  • Shoreline1

    And our government suggests that people in Iraq or Afghanistan are a threat to us? I suggest that the US government is a greater threat to Americans that Saddam was, and does anyone in Afghanistan even have a boat to get here? I just cannot be patriotic under the current circumstances.

  • Mother Earth

    American justice just went backwards, this judge should be stripped of his position and jailed for impersonating a human being