Legislators Working on Making Medical Marijuana in Louisiana More Affordable
Louisiana is working hard to provide a comprehensive program for patients registered for medical marijuana in Louisiana.
Passed in 2016, Louisiana slowly rolled out its MMJ program, first selling only tinctures in 2019. Since then, complaints from patients and businesses concerning prices and product availability have been met with agreement from legislators who maintain a growing concern for the cannabis supply chain.
After a recent meeting concerning medical marijuana prices and supply chain issues, the state is moving to find new regulatory practices that can help drive down prices and expand the availability of cannabis products for pharmacies and patients.
Louisiana Cannabis Supply Chain Problems
In Late November 2020 the Louisiana Legislature’s Medical Marijuana Commission held a meeting concerning the rising prices and bottlenecked supply chain that pharmacies and cultivators are currently struggling with.
Businesses and patients alike submitted letters offering their concerns about the lack of cannabis products at Louisiana dispensaries, and the extraordinary prices of medical marijuana in the state. Many patients say that they are paying between $500 - $1,500 per month for their medication.
Patients and businesses submitted their protests, claiming that products were available at half the price in the neighboring state of Arkansas, where ironically, medical marijuana prices are already some of the highest in the nation.
The cause for the rising price of medication and lack of availability is proposed to be due to a monopoly on cultivation in Louisiana, where only two entities (Louisiana State University & Southern University) are allowed to cultivate medical cannabis, through private contracts with independent contractors.
The cultivators, however, complain that there is an abundance of medication available, however constraints in protocols used by regulatory authorities are causing the lack of product availability.
Regulation Causing Bottleneck in Cannabis Supply Chain in Louisiana
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for a large majority of the regulatory authority over the medical marijuana program in Louisiana.
The department is responsible for the testing and analysis of all cannabis products before they are sold to pharmacies, as well as testing on all equipment that is used to cultivate and process cannabis products.
At the meeting, concerns were raised that the department was “micromanaging” insignificant details over minute definitions in applications submitted over new machinery, causing extreme delays and unnecessary interruptions.
Reportedly in the meeting, regulators were requiring cultivators to change many small details for a machine’s standard operating procedure manual, demanding that cultivators replace words such as “pan” to “mixer”, and to clarify whether certain words were written on a beaker, or on a sticker that is placed on a beaker.
These kinds of protocols have purposes, according to the department’s defender in the meeting, and that these safety measures prevent pathogens such as listeria, although apparently no suggestions were offered as to how the process could be streamlined.
Medical Marijuana Prices Cause Upset for Louisiana Patients
When Louisiana passed its medical marijuana program, tincture extracts were the only available product.
Once those first products became available for purchase at approved pharmacies, patients began raising serious concerns that the price of the medication was astronomical compared to other states.
Reportedly, tinctures range from $90-$220 a bottle, where the same products in neighboring state Arkansas are between $30-$50 a bottle.
This has caused genuine concern from residents of the Bayou State, considering that the contractor that is cultivating Louisiana medical cannabis also operates in Arkansas, and offers tinctures in Arkansas at a significantly lower price.
With the addition of cannabis flower to Louisiana’s medical marijuana menu in 2022, prices have apparently remained higher than patients consider affordable. And despite the claims that kinks in the supply chain are responsible for the bottlenecked cannabis product availability, little has been offered to justify the higher marijuana prices for the state.
One reason for medical marijuana the price hike is likely found in the limited access that patients have to purchase cannabis from only a handful of operating pharmacies, and an even smaller group of cultivators. Only 9 pharmacies are approved to sell the products that are grown by only 2 approved cultivators in Louisiana, who use one contractor.
Legislative Review Could Help Medical Marijuana Prices in Louisiana
Because of the heightened attention on the restricted supply chain that medical marijuana cultivators are experiencing and the claims of unreasonably high prices at Louisiana dispensaries, the state may very well move forward to review the program’s efficiency in Louisiana.
This would be in good order for medical marijuana patients in Louisiana, as the access to cannabis medicine in the state shouldn’t be restricted by any legislative red tape or price gouging.
States that entertain large numbers of pharmacies or dispensaries that sell medical marijuana and multiple cultivators who are able to produce cannabis have the best success in providing medication to chronic and terminally ill patients.
It’s our hope that Louisiana will take this into consideration when trying to fix both the supply chain issues, and the price problem that the state is currently experiencing.
It’s likely that the state will move to assess these issues and fix them accordingly, while maintaining the priority that medical marijuana patients need affordable access to available medication.
Get Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certification Today!
Louisiana offers a comprehensive medical marijuana program and is working hard to ensure that medical marijuana is affordable in the future.
While Louisiana is pursuing reviews into the protocols that are set for the medical marijuana program, the state is accepting applications for medical marijuana patient certifications.
Louisiana Marijuana Card makes getting a medical marijuana certification simple and stress-free, and you can even get certified online for ease of use and convenience.
For questions about Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, or how to become a registered patient in Louisiana, consult with one of our trusted doctors and book an online medical marijuana appointment today!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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