Medical Marijuana Expansion Signed Into Law in Louisiana
- At the beginning of August, patients in Louisiana will be able to receive medical marijuana for an expanded list of conditions and symptoms.
- This new legislation was signed last week by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).
- The bill also discusses the potential for medical marijuana patients to have their cannabis delivered to their house, but lawmakers’ interpretation of it is still unknown.
Beginning on August 1st of this year, patients in Louisiana will be able to receive medical marijuana for any symptoms or conditions that their doctor sees fit. This new law is the result of a bill that was signed last week by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).
Prior to this new bill being signed into law, patients had 14 specific conditions that would qualify them for legal medical cannabis under the state’s current law.
Gov. Edwards also signed a new legislation that protects both banks and credit unions that work with cannabis companies from receiving penalties from state regulators, along with a bill that protects doctors who refer patients to medical marijuana. Both of these laws also take effect on August 1st.
This medical marijuana expansion bill was introduced by Rep. Larry Bagley (R). The bill initially was only going to add concussions and traumatic brain injuries to the list of approved conditions, but was later amended in committee to include many other conditions that a doctor would see as debilitating to the patient.
Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Paul Armentano, weighed in on the new legislation:
“This is common sense legislation that provides physicians, not lawmakers, the ability and discretion to decide what treatment options are best for their patients. Just as doctors are entrusted to make decisions with regard to the supervised use of opioids and other medicines – many of which pose far greater risks to patients than cannabis – the law should provide doctors with similar flexibility when it comes to recommending cannabis therapy to a bona fide patient.”
Bagley also introduced a bill to allow delivery services to medical marijuana patients, but removed it when he felt it was redundant because the new bill would already allow cannabis products to be delivered to patients.
It is yet to be seen if regulators will agree with the lawmaker’s interpretation of the legislation, as doctors still can not legally prescribe cannabis to a patient. On top of that, medical marijuana is not dispensed in traditional pharmacies.
However, state officials allowed for dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, so there is potential for that policy to become permanent.
Louisiana is taking the necessary steps to make medical marijuana more accessible for all patients. With a little cooperation from lawmakers, they can help provide patients with a safer alternative to opioids while helping to reduce stigma around cannabis.