Louisiana is close to becoming the 24th state to establish a legal process for licensing medical cannabis cultivators and retailers. Only non-smokeable forms of the plant will be legalized, but products will not be restricted to cannabidiol (CBD) only. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid known for producing the feeling of being high, and all other cannabinoids in whole plant therapy will be legal.
Following a 30-6 vote by the Senate on June 8, Louisiana’s medical marijuana legislation, SB 143, will await the signature of Governor Bobby Jindal. The vote was the last necessary step on the part of the Louisiana Legislature, as it had already previously been approved by the House.
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, has received public interest from Gov. Jindal. Gov. Jindal reviewed the bill before it was voted on by the Senate, and he reported:
“If it got to our desk we’d sign it. Our view on medical marijuana was, it had to be supervised and had to be a legitimate medical purpose and his bill meets that criteria.”
Louisiana Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia (right) listens as Senate Health and Welfare chairman David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans (left) reads support cards on Mills’ legislation to legalize medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana was previously legalized by the Louisiana Legislature in 1978 and again in 1991, but they never established a way to legally dispense it. It has been legal for patients suffering from certain conditions to use it, and it has been legal for physicians to prescribe it. They are simply missing a way to produce and dispense it.
Once Gov. Jindal signs the bill, 3 state boards will be given regulatory control. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture will regulate and control cultivation. The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners will be responsible for drafting prescription regulations, and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy will control the dispensing of medical marijuana.
The Legislature will be forced to readopt the law in five years due to a sunset clause, giving lawmakers an opportunity to research the positives of legalization and re-evaluate the system.
photo credit: Emily Lane, Nola.com