Louisiana Close to Legalizing Medical Marijuana, With Big Unknowns

Louisiana appears poised to legalize some form of medical marijuana sales, but it’s unclear what potency levels the state would permit, and advocates say the entire program could prove to be unworkable.

A bill that would allow the sale of non-smokeable forms of cannabis through up to 10 dispensaries statewide sailed through the state House on Thursday. It now heads back to the Senate, which already passed a previous version of the bill and must sign off on changes made in the House.

If that happens, the measure will move to the desk of the state’s governor, who has already indicated he will sign such legislation.

Under the bill, up to 10 licensed dispensaries could set up shop across Louisiana to sell MMJ oils and pills to registered patients with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

The state would license just one cultivation site, giving first dibs to Louisiana State University and Southern University Ag Centers, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The House, however, added an amendment that would only allow medical cannabis with “the lowest acceptable therapeutic level (of THC) available through scientifically accepted methods.” So it could be more along the lines of the very limited CBD-focused programs many other states are setting up, depending on how lawmakers interpret that language.

Perhaps more concerning, the bill would also require doctors to write prescriptions for medical cannabis rather than recommend it, which could potentially render the entire program ineffective.

Critics have assailed a bill in Texas to legalize CBD oils that includes similar language, saying doctors are not legally allowed to prescribe medical cannabis (though they can recommend it).

If the bill passes, a state medical board would have the authority to recommend adding specific ailments to the program, with the initial deadline for suggestions set for 60 days before the next legislative session begins, according to the Picayune.

Different agencies would oversee various aspects of the program, with the state’s pharmacy board setting regulations for dispensaries and the agriculture department crafting rules for the cultivation operation.

The state actually legalized medical marijuana decades ago, but lawmakers never set up a system for distributing the drug.

3 comments on “Louisiana Close to Legalizing Medical Marijuana, With Big Unknowns
  1. Johnny Korell on

    No kidding. I just moved to Colorado about five and a half years ago. I lived in Texas for 30 years and I never heard of medical marijuana being legal. Before I moved here I never heard of medical marijuana. Legal or otherwise. I really only heard about it because my Wife and I was starting a holistic business here and there was a medical marijuana dispensary in the building we have our office in. Needless to say but we got our mmj license before we had moved our stuff here from Texas 2 weeks later. We had originally decide to move here for the cooler weather and because you could have up to an ounce and it was a $100 fine only. You did not have to go to court. But to our delight it was much better. I smoke weed the whole time I was in Texas and before. I started at 20 and I am now 61. Now anyone over 21 can buy it,grow it possess it and it is perfectly legal here in Colorado. I say to that,”Yee haw”! And to sew this all together I was raised in Illinois. And that is where I started smoking weed when I was 20. How ironic?

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