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  • Jennifer Betz

Medical Marijuana in Louisiana - Where We Are, How We Got Here, and a Peek Into 2021

The state of medical marijuana in the state of Louisiana

Medical Marijuana Has Been Legal in Louisiana Since 1978, but Patients are Just Beginning to Access Relief

Despite the fact that Louisiana medical marijuana has gotten off to a molasses-slow start, newer legislation makes getting the relief that medical marijuana provides easier than ever.

As a result, patients throughout the Bayou State are now reaping the natural health benefits and symptom management that only cannabis can provide.

Louisiana citizens who suffer from a long list of diseases, disorders, symptoms, and ailments can now get a recommendation for medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, PTSD, symptoms related to cancer and its treatment, Crohn’s Disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, and any condition that a doctor deems as debilitating and treatable with the powerful plant.

Additionally, in order to prevent the spread of COVID, medical marijuana delivery may be provided by dispensaries and pharmacies in Louisiana. There may be only nine total providers, but they can deliver to every precinct in their designated region.

This means that everyone from Shreveport on down to New Orleans—and every precinct in between—can legally get medical marijuana from a dispensary brought straight to their doorstep.

And if home delivery isn’t enough to get you excited about medical marijuana in Louisiana, prices are dropping for all sorts of products. Medical marijuana is now more affordable and more accessible than ever.

Let’s take a look at what today’s laws mean to medical marijuana patients in Louisiana, how we got to where we are, and what to look for next as the medical marijuana program in Louisiana takes shape.

Medical Marijuana in Louisiana - A Decades-Long Journey

Louisiana celebrates a role in two medical marijuana firsts. In 1978, the Bayou State was first in the United States to legalize medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma and side-effects related to chemotherapy.

Then, 38 years later, Governor John Bel Edwards signed SB 271, making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to create a viable, comprehensive plan for access to medical marijuana for patients in the state. A 2018 bill made it all official, setting in motion a new industry providing patients a different path to wellness.

What New Medical Marijuana Laws Mean for Patients in Louisiana

Even after the first dispensaries opened in August 2019, new orders continue to loosen restrictions on who qualifies for medical marijuana and how patients can access it. So let’s take a closer look at where we are right now.

Do I Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

Newer legislation has made it easier to qualify for medical marijuana in Louisiana, and thousands of patients who did not previously have access may now take advantage of opportunities for natural relief.

Even if you do not have a diagnosis on the list, you may still qualify if a doctor decides you have a debilitating condition that would benefit from treatment with medical marijuana.

The staff and compassionate physicians at Louisiana Marijuana Card can tell you if you qualify in a matter of minutes.

How Do I Get a Recommendation for Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

Getting a recommendation for medical marijuana in Louisiana is easier than ever, with telemedicine services that are flexible and responsive to your needs. Simply contact Louisiana Marijuana Card today, to set up an appointment. Our trained professionals can even get your medical records for you if you are having trouble accessing them.

How Long Does My Medical Marijuana Recommendation in Louisiana Last?

According to a representative at H & W Drugstore Dispensary in New Orleans, it depends on what your doctor decides is best for you. Some may elect to have you try a 90-day trial, with an evaluation to extend the recommendation after the period is over. Others may recommend medical marijuana for an entire year.

How Much Medical Marijuana Can I Buy at Once?

According to Louisiana law, you can purchase and possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. What this means varies from patient to patient. Doctors may recommend a specific dosing, or they can leave it open for consultation between the pharmacist and the patient.

Where Can I Get Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

While there are only 9 approved locations to purchase medical marijuana in Louisiana, recent legislation related to COVID-19 has made it legal for dispensaries to deliver. Once you have a medical marijuana recommendation, you can either visit your chosen dispensary or order medical marijuana to be delivered directly to your door.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been authorized to provide delivery to every precinct in their district, so no one is out of range.

Can I Smoke Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, it is illegal for medical marijuana dispensaries to sell any products intended for inhalation. The one exception is in the form of a metered dose inhaler, or MDI.

You can get medical marijuana in a variety of other forms, however, including marijuana gummies, tinctures, dissolving strips, topicals, capsules, and even suppositories.

Can I Assign a Caregiver to Pick Up My Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

Yes! According to H & W Drugstore Dispensary, you can assign up to five caregivers to pick up your medical marijuana. It is challenging to confirm this information anywhere else, and different sources provide conflicting answers. You may want to contact the medical marijuana dispensary nearest you in order to confirm.

Why Did Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Louisiana Take So Long?

The 1978 law, originally sponsored by Senator Tony Guarisco, put regulation into the hands of a Marijuana Prescription Review Board to be created by the Department of Health and Hospitals. The DHH never followed through, and Louisiana patients were never given a way to access medical marijuana.

In 1991, the state reaffirmed its intention to make plant medicine available to its residents. It gave the DHH until the following year to take charge, and legislators added spastic quadriplegia (a form of cerebral palsy) to the short list of qualifying conditions.

Louisiana finally saw an avenue for doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana to patients in 1994. However, there was never an infrastructure implemented for access. Additionally, the wording of the law made it impossible to follow through.

Revisiting Medical Marijuana in Louisiana - Again … And Again

Lawmakers began to address the issue of medical marijuana again after Fred Mills, former Executive Director of the Board of Pharmacy, became a state senator.

At the Board of Pharmacy, Mills fielded calls from doctors about how to get medical marijuana for their patients, and from individuals about how to get their doctor to prescribe it. As a senator, he knew that something needed to be done to address access to medical marijuana for everyone who needed it.

As Louisiana State Senator, he first introduced Louisiana SB 541 in 2014. Arguments from sheriffs, judges and district attorneys quickly knocked down hopes for passage, despite compelling testimony from patients who would benefit from medical marijuana.

One of the most gut wrenching testimonies was given by Alison Neustrom, a pancreatic cancer patient and daughter of Lafayette Sheriff, Mike Neustrom. She died shortly after the hearing, in September 2014.

The subsequent bill, SB 143, was named the Alison Neustrom Act after her legacy. The revisions that Mills made tightened the list of qualifying conditions and forms that could be used, satisfying the arguments of those who believed that legalizing medical marijuana was just a ploy to allow an open marijuana market.

The act passed by a final vote of 30 - 6, and Governor Bobby Jindall signed it into law on June 10, 2015.

Louisiana Finally Gets A Path To Access Medical Marijuana in 2016

Since Bobby Jindall signed SB 271 in 2016, bill after bill has been signed related to medical marijuana. Legislators continue to hammer out the details of who, what, how, and where for medical marijuana.

Progress has been painfully incremental, with three years passing between the enactment of SB 271 and the opening of Capitol Wellness Solutions, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Louisiana.

Since then, however, a wave of reform has made access to medical marijuana easier and easier. Expanded qualifying conditions and home delivery are the latest development supporting a more natural approach to relief, healing, and symptom management in Louisiana.

What’s Next for Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?

We are at a point where everyone seems to recognize the important role that medical marijuana can fill in healthcare. As people become educated about medical marijuana, its benefits, and how to obtain it, this will change and the industry will begin to flourish.

Hopefully, consumer enthusiasm serves as a signal to lawmakers in Louisiana that it is time to open access even further, allowing more cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries to operate in the state. This would guarantee the best medical marijuana products at affordable prices in the future.

Ready for Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Card?

If you have been unsure about whether you should get a medical marijuana card, now is the time to get in touch with Louisiana Marijuana Card. Our staff can help you discover if you are likely to qualify and set up an appointment to talk one-on-one with our caring doctors. Call us at 833-253-2943, or simply book an appointment online right now.

While you wait for your appointment, check out our blog to educate yourself about medical marijuana. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, to join the Louisiana medical marijuana community.

Don’t wait another day to find the relief you deserve!


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