Louisiana medical marijuana expansion seen as unlikely this year

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Louisiana has only two medical marijuana growers and nine dispensaries, and it doesn’t look as if that’s going to change dramatically anytime soon.

Legislation that would expand the state’s heavily regulated MMJ program is opposed by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Republican, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to The Advocate in Baton Rouge.

Edwards said it’s too soon to dramatically depart from the current licensing structure, which allows only up to 10 MMJ dispensaries, which the state calls pharmacies. Nine have been licensed so far.

“I would hope they keep the number of licenses to 10, maybe one or two more if there’s need for that,” Edwards said, according to The Advocate.

But Edwards did say he’s open to the possibility that licensed pharmacies could add satellite locations, because they “ought to be able to realize the return on their investments.”

His comments came only days before Wednesday’s scheduled House committee hearings on two MMJ expansion bills.

As far as cultivation goes, only two private companies have been issued licenses, and those are in partnership with Louisiana State University and Southern University.

That’s not to say there haven’t been any reforms. Lawmakers did agree to allow flower sales, which many advocates and medical cannabis patients had been pushing for.

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Flower sales started Jan. 1, and the additional product already has boosted sales and the number of registered patients, according to The Advocate.

The 2022 MJBiz Factbook projects that Louisiana’s MMJ program will reach $90 million to $100 million in sales this year, about double those in 2021.