Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program Slow to Take Shape


Since 2015, medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana, but recreational marijuana is still not on the table. Louisiana was the 25th state to adopt a medical marijuana policy. weed possession carries a sentence of up to 15 days in prison and /or a $300 dollar fine if people are caught. The drug has been decriminalized in the city of New Orleans, effective June 2016. There is a notable lack of tolerance for people caught in possession, growing or selling weed in this Southern State, so cannabis users beware. And the same can be said for medical weed, as the policies have not yet come into effect.

A Sluggish Approach

Unfortunately, implementing medical marijuana in a Southern States is going to involve thousands of pages of more or less pointless regulations and security policies. In the minds of many individuals, a drug is a drug, regardless of the fact that it cures people of their illnesses and increases their empathy, creativity, compassion and decision-making abilities. The cultivation, distribution and marketing of weed is all going to need much legislation and is all going to be heavily centralized. Unfortunately for the patients who happen to be dying of numerous illnesses and desperately need access to a medical plant, the process has been slowed down to a snail’s pace.

The facilities will face intense scrutiny — and the whole program faces a legislative review after it gets up and running to determine if it will exist beyond Jan 1st, 2020. Louisiana lawmakers agreed to a framework for dispensing the drug in 2015, then tweaked the law by Republican Sen. Fred Mills, a pharmacist, a year later. The law will eventually get medicinal-grade weed to people with cancer, a severe form of cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and other diseases. weed can be available in medicinal oils, pills, sprays and topical applications, but cannot be sold in a form that can be smoked.

It does seem that states can take one or two broad approaches to marijuana legalization. The first approach is to centralize the distribution and cultivation of marijuana. What this means is that there will be a limited number of highly expensive permits for both cultivators and dispensaries. The highly expensivepermits will generate revenue for the state. Unfortunately for the customer, there will be no other option except to buy marijuana from medical dispensaries. As has been shown in states such as California and Washington by independent testing facilities, medical marijuana has alarming levels of toxins in it. This is because there is no real incentive for the growers to grow quality weed, without any market competitors. In this situation, which can be seen in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it is a simple swapping of chemical harmful pain killers for toxin laden weed . We have exchanged the corrupt pharmaceutical industries for… the corrupt pharmaceutical industries, who decided to change their line of business when prescription sales happened to be declining. The second approach is to engage in generous and lax regulatory policies with the choice for the growth of recreational weed for individuals, taken in Colorado and California. In other words, the approach is usually either centralized or decentralized.

The Pennsylvania Approach

Louisiana has taken the Pennsylvanian behind closed doors approach. Only the agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University are allowed to grow the medical-grade pot, overseen by Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain’s department. Leaving the whole supply of weed cultivation in the hands of two centers is centralization in the extreme, and corruption invariable follows centralization. The law allows only 10 pharmacies to distribute the medication to patients, chosen by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy through a competitive bidding process. Doctors must get permission from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to recommend the drug for patients.The regulatory process is extensive.The agriculture department alone issued 23 pages of rules for the medical marijuana growers “to protect the public welfare of the inhabitants of the state”. There are currently considerable requirements on safety and surveillance and cameras.An inventory tracking system is also required. Though this seems to be very intensive in Louisiana, it has some merit. Marijuana is valuable and needs to be tracked and monitored.

Both universities have selected vendors to produce the medicinal drug: Las Vegas-based GB Sciences for LSU and Lafayette-based Advanced Biomedics for Southern. Both schools expect to get millions from the growers over the first five years of production and to do research at the cultivation facility. No state tax dollars are involved. What Louisiana can be commended on is its ban on all types of marijuana advertising, which children can be susceptible to. This is an area overlooked in other states, and there is a danger that children are going to start taking marijuana and make it a lifelong habit at an early age.

Medical marijuana is expected to be available in Louisiana next summer. No pharmacies have been chosen as of yet to complement the two cultivators. While the future of marijuana in states such as Colorado and California is bright and liberating, the future of marijuana in Louisiana and Pennsylvania is without hope or sunshine as you either buy from big marijuana or go withou

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