Louisiana MMJ Dispensary Bill Advances

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Will Louisiana become the next medical marijuana market in the country – and the first in the South?

Possibly so.

The Louisiana Senate has passed a bill that would allow a small number of dispensaries and one grow site to open in the state – a milestone considering lawmakers shot down similar legislation last year.

The bill now goes to the House for approval. If it passes, Gov. Bobby Jindal has indicated he’ll sign the legislation as long as the market is tightly regulated.

Under the bill, 10 dispensaries would be allowed to open in Louisiana, and they could sell MMJ to patients with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, according to NOLA.com.

The state would be allowed to track sales, and lawmakers would have to revisit the law in five years.

The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy would set rules on dispensaries, while the state’s Department of Agriculture would set rules on the grow site, NOLA.com reported.

The bill’s success so far, compared with the one last year that was shot down by a Senate committee, can be traced to collaboration with the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, which has said the drug could possibly help patients. The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Fred Mills, is a pharmacist and said patients had spoken with him about the benefits of medical cannabis.

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