Lookout For These Cannabis Bills as Louisiana Closes Legislative Session
The Louisiana medical marijuana program has changed a lot since its passing in 2015.
With sales only starting in 2019, Louisiana moved to allow smokable cannabis flower shortly thereafter in 2022, and now, a host of bills that have passed are changing even more about Louisiana’s medical cannabis program.
From employee protections to warrantless searches, several new bills will change how Louisiana’s medical marijuana program runs, and a few of these changes will affect medical marijuana patients personally.
In this article, we’ll cover the latest news on the changes to the Louisiana medical marijuana program and how they affect you as a patient!
Latest Bills to Pass That Change Medical Marijuana Program
Protections for Medical Marijuana Patients Employed by the State
HB988 offers protections for employees at the State level, with language that supports employees and potential hires from negative consequences based on their status as a medical marijuana patient.
The bill also contains protections for medical marijuana patients who will undergo drug-testing:
“No state employer shall subject an employee or prospective employee to negative employment consequences based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana”
Many states have similar bills with this kind of language, and it serves as an example for local businesses to follow suit.
While companies can certainly have their own policies on cannabis, HB988 serves as a springboard for businesses to adopt similar policies and account for medical marijuana patients when considering potential hires and current employees.
And although you’ll be safe as a potential hire even with a medical marijuana card, using cannabis at the workplace or being impaired from cannabis at the workplace is still off-limits.
Warrantless Searches Based on the Smell of Cannabis
HB629 is a compact, interesting bill preventing a law enforcement officer from performing a warrantless search at your place of residence because of the odor of marijuana alone.
The bill does not make any room for warrantless searches in your vehicle or for your person, which puts it at a bit of controversy.
Why wouldn’t HB629 address warrantless vehicle searches based on the odor of marijuana?
Considering that this is surely where the majority of warrantless searches occur, it would almost certainly be the most common ground for unpleasant interaction between law enforcement and citizens.
Addressing this possibility could theoretically impair law enforcement’s ability to pursue otherwise unjustifiable searches based on suspicion, but the law doesn’t typically account for feelings of suspicion, and instead it usually intends to pursue action based on evidence.
You’ll enjoy protections from the suspicions of law enforcement at your residence when it comes to the odor of marijuana, but the bill doesn’t actively add any protections outside of your home.
Your Pipes, Papers, & Grinders Are Safe Under New Bill
HB775 makes it legal for a medical marijuana patient to possess cannabis paraphernalia.
Before the passage of HB775, the technical limitations of paraphernalia laws in Louisiana didn’t account for medical marijuana patients, making it technically a conflict for patients to possess many cannabis related devices.
Although there aren’t any known cases where medical marijuana patients were charged with possession of paraphernalia, HB775 makes sure that won’t happen in the future.
The exact language of the bill states: “…the term “drug paraphernalia” shall not include any equipment or devices solely used or intended for use for the inhalation of raw or crude marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, or a chemical derivative of tetrahydrocannabinols when the person is a patient of a state-sponsored medical marijuana program…”
The bill’s language makes it generous enough to include out-of-state medical marijuana patients, too, since any person acting within the boundaries of a medical marijuana program would be protected.
Out-of-State Medical Marijuana Patients Now Legal in Louisiana
Out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders will be pleased to know that two bills passed that allow patients to purchase medical cannabis in Louisiana.
HB137 amends the law to protect both in and out-of-state medical marijuana patients from being prosecuted for possessing cannabis.
The bill solidifies the fact that patients who are legally permitted to possess cannabis as a patient registered through any state’s medical marijuana program won’t be prosecuted for being in possession of cannabis paraphernalia or medical cannabis.
HB135 implements the infrastructure required for pharmacies to transact with out-of-state medical marijuana patients. The bill allows pharmacies to sell medical cannabis to patients with a valid medical marijuana card issued by another state, though if your card was revoked or expired, it won’t be considered valid.
Psychologists & Nurse Practitioners Can Now Recommend Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
Prior to HB190 passing, only physicians would be qualified to recommend marijuana for therapeutic use to a patient.
Now, nurse practitioners with prescriptive authority and medical psychologists can recommend medical marijuana to patients, which can significantly improve access to cannabis for patients in unique circumstances.
For example, since physicians were previously the only approved persons who could recommend medical marijuana, the fees associated with a consultation with a physician could sometimes be quite high.
Here at Louisiana Marijuana Card, you’ll enjoy the best price available to consult with an authorized clinician who can help you with your journey to becoming a medical marijuana patient.
Regulatory Changes to Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program
HB698 removes the regulatory authority from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry and replaces them with the Louisiana Department of Health.
Many states choose to eventually move authority to the DOH if they don’t start out that way, and for medical patients this makes the most sense all things considered.
The removal of the two former agencies likely won’t change much about how cannabis is grown or processed in Louisiana, though it does change where the licensing fees are handled.
There weren’t any changes to cultivation or the number of cultivators. LSU and Southern University’s Agricultural Centers will still be the only cultivators allowed, contracting with private businesses.
Most of the changes to Louisiana’s program cover the loopholes where medical marijuana patients weren’t considered under traditional bill language, though among the changes were some modifications to who can test medical cannabis and a host of requirements for contractors in the industry.
Get Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certification
Louisiana’s medical marijuana program is growing faster than ever and you can get your medical marijuana card online fast and easy!
Beat the lines and get your medical marijuana certification in Louisiana today, and you can even get certified for medical marijuana online for ease of use and convenience.
For questions about Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, or how to become a medical marijuana 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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