Louisiana Residents Will Soon Have Access to Medical Marijuana
The effort to get medical marijuana in the hands and medicine cabinets of Louisiana residents has taken its biggest (and perhaps most important) step forward: official approval from Louisiana’s new governor.
Democrat John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 271 into law Thursday, legalizing the recommendation, use and dispensing of non-inhaled marijuana based products in Louisiana.
The law allows Louisiana doctors to recommend products refined from raw marijuana for theraputic use. Those products could come in the form of things like oils or pills, but it does not legalize the use of inhaled marijuana in any way.
Doctors will be able to recommend the theraputic use of marijuana in connection to the treatment of several defined “debilitating medical conditions”. Those conditions include cancer, HIV, AIDS, wasting syndrome, seizures, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.
That includes using marijuana as a theraputic aid against the effects of the treatment of those conditions. For example, a person undergoing chemotherapy for cancer would be allowed to use marijuana to alieviate the negative effects of the chemotherapy, regardless of the marijuana’s effect on the cancer.
The new law also sets in motion the creation of a legal distribution system in the state.
That’s an important part of the bill because a similar law passed years ago legalized the prescription of medical marijuana for a very limited number of conditions, but did not put in place a system for patients to get marijuana legally. In effect, it did nothing to help patients get medical marijuana as no one could legally grow or sell it.
The new bill will remedy that problem. It lays out ground work that will allow one or two producers who will grow and refine marijuana based products to medical standards.
Possible marijuana producers are the LSU Ag Center and Southern University Ag Center. They must decide by Sept. 1st, 2016 to either seperately or jointly become producers. If both decline to produce the products, then another producer must be found.
10 pharmacies in Louisiana will be chosen to dispense the products. Those pharmacies are yet to be determined.
The bill also allows for additional medical conditions to be added to the approved list at a later time.
To read the bill in its entirety, go the Louisiana State Legislature’s website.