Louisiana governor signs landmark medical marijuana bill

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a landmark bill to create a viable medical marijuana program, paving the way for MMJ to be available to patients for the first time in Louisiana history.

The move also puts Louisiana squarely on track to be the first state in the South to implement a workable medical cannabis program – and the 25th state in the nation to do so.

The opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs appear limited, however. One marijuana grower would be allowed to operate – and that’s only if two Louisiana universities skip the opportunity to grow medical cannabis. The legislation calls for 10 MMJ dispensaries.

The Times-Picayune reported it could take many months – perhaps 18 or more – before physicians could recommend medical cannabis to patients and pharmacies could provide it.

According to some observers, for the program to be truly workable state lawmakers also must pass a second bill, SB 180, a two-page bill giving patients and people in the marijuana industry immunity from prosecution for licensed marijuana activity. Approval is expected soon.

Louisiana technically legalized medical marijuana decades ago, but it didn’t approve home growing or any way to produce and distribute cannabis. The new law both clears away legal impediments and expands the number of medical conditions treatable through MMJ.

Last November’s election of Edwards, a Democrat, paved the way for the bill signing. He succeeded Bobby Jindal, a Republican, who opposed the language in the new law.