KATC is getting answers about the medical marijuana facility coming to Lafayette.
Two companies, Acadiana Therapeutic Remedies and The Apothecary Shoppe, are competing for the license to run that dispensary.
Depending on who gets it, the facility will be located either on Kaliste Saloom road or on Guilbeau Road.
But the big question is, how will medical marijuana be regulated?
The state is growing marijuana at facilities on the LSU and Southern University campuses.
Medical Marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since the early 1990’s, but lawmakers failed to pass laws on how to distribute and regulate it.
Two years ago, Sen. Fred Mills passed a bill allowing limited access to the medicine and it was signed into law.
“I did it because I was getting calls from people throughout the state with debilitating diseases. [They were] going to other states, getting medical marijuana, getting excellent results and I just felt like they didn’t need to leave Louisiana to get the same results as other states,” said Sen. Mills.
To get the treatment, first you have to have one of these diseases or conditions: cancer, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.
Then, you must go to a doctor who has taken an eight-hour certification course.
That doctor will then recommend you get marijuana for treatment. And that rule is unique to Louisiana.
“So you would have to go one extra step to be able to recommend it as a physician. What I’m sensing from many of the physicians that I’ve talked to is that they’re waiting for it to be available commercially,” said Mills.
Once you’ve received a recommendation, you can then take it to a dispensary where you’ll be given the drug at the proper dosage in oil form.
The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy will hand out 9 permits for each of the designated regions throughout Louisiana, plus a 10th later in a high-demand area.
“That was a compromise I made with law enforcement they wanted to make sure that this could be highly regulated. What we wanted to do was prove the model, have limited locations and see how this works. Let’s crawl before we walk to make sure the public is protected and the patients receive what they need that have these debilitating conditions,” said the Republican senator.
Chuck Huebner, a spokesman for the company growing medical marijuana at Southern University, Advanced Biomedics, said these dispensaries are coming at the perfect time because the country is in the midst of an opioid crisis.
Huebner said patients with the conditions covered in the state’s marijuana law would typically be prescribed an opioid and that a patient cannot overdose on marijuana.
The state pharmacy board will award the dispensary licenses later this month.
This does not change laws as it comes to recreational marijuana.
“On the medical marijuana side it gets a little tricky because in Louisiana, we’ve legalized it but the federal government still recognizes it as a ‘schedule 1’ drug, which you cannot possess. What the US Attorney General office has historically done, is if a state legalizes medical marijuana then they do not enforce any of the DEA laws as far as the scheduling,” said Mills.
Meanwhile, lawmakers will consider four marijuana bills during the regular session.
Two of those bills would expand the list of conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana treatment to include PTSD, Glaucoma and autism.
One would legalize recreational marijuana and allow the state to regulate and tax the drug. Another would decriminalize recreational possession, calling for a $100 fine.