NEWS BRIEF

LA lifts medical marijuana patient caps for doctors to boost market’s viability

Louisiana regulators agreed to eliminate the 100-patient limit for doctors authorized to recommend medical marijuana, a move aimed at removing a potential stumbling block for a market that’s expected to launch late this year.

The State Board of Medical Examiners voted 8-1 on Monday to remove the cap established in 2016.

By a narrower 5-4 vote, the board also scrapped a restriction requiring patients to revisit their doctors every 90 days to remain eligible to receive medical cannabis.

Only 48 doctors have submitted applications for a permit to recommend MMJ, and 31 have been approved so far.

That’s such a low number that even without a patient cap, concerns linger about whether enough doctors will recommend MMJ to make it easily accessible to eligible patients.

Dr. Victor Chou, who opened a medical marijuana clinic in Baton Rouge, reached the former patient cap months ago and said hundreds of people are on his waiting list.

Before the vote, he told the board many would-be MMJ patients “feel locked out” of the market.

Here’s what Louisiana’s MMJ market will look like:

  • Nine pharmacy dispensaries will be spread across the state. Only Louisiana State University and Southern University agricultural centers can grow medical marijuana.
  • Marijuana can be sold as oils, pills, liquids, sprays and topical applications but cannot be offered in smokable form.
  • Earlier this year, lawmakers added glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease to a list of qualifying conditions that includes cancer, a severe form of cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, epilepsy and muscular dystrophy.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

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