Pharmacists and investors are working to open the first and only medical marijuana pharmacy in the Greater New Orleans area.
They say pharmacies are legally approved by the legislature and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.
But those who say marijuana is not proven to be safe and effective, say they are violating the intent of the law, lawmakers and the Louisiana board of medical examiners.
The Rx Greenhouse in Metairie hopes to be open by the end of the summer.
Nothing that can be smoked will be sold here, only pills, oils, patches, capsules, tinctures, concentrates, topicals and suppositories. There will be a safe and two armed guards around the clock, according to Dr. Sajal Roy, owner of The Rx Greenhouse.
“Our goal is not to have the medical marijuana stolen or diverted. Our goal is to use it to help patients,” Dr. Roy said.
As a pharmacist, Dr. Roy has opened similar businesses in other states and was ranked first out of all the applicants by a subcommittee of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to open the local facility. His team is moving forward, even though the full pharmacy board has not voted yet. He says a half dozen doctors or so have been approved to write what are called “certifications,” not prescriptions, for specific ailments that are good for only 30 days.
“And that mandates the patients return back to the physicians so that the patient can be properly monitored to determine if this is actually working,” explained Pharmacist
Danielle Neupauer, the Corporate Compliance Officer of The Rx Greenhouse.
Groups like the GNO Drug Demand Reduction Coalition lobbied against medical marijuana, saying it is against federal law and has not gone through the rigorous testing as every other prescribed drug to get FDA approval.
“If they actually dispense marijuana to people who are sick, they are being reckless and they are also opening themselves up to civil liability and to law suits,” said Stephanie Haynes, President of GNODDRC, who says they support FDA approved cannabinoid based medicine and the clinical trials on marijuana for epilepsy.
They cite a resolution that passed the legislature unanimously mandating Louisiana clinical trials and quality controls to make sure there is no contamination before these pharmacies opened.
“It’s going against science. It’s going against medicine, and it’s going against the intent of the 2017 resolution,” Haynes said. “People who are sick deserve legitimate medicine, not fake medicine.”
The Rx Greenhouse says with the plant being grown at the Agricultural Centers at LSU and Southern University, it will go through strict quality control and they rely on past small studies for efficacy.
“There’s plenty of documentation, not just in our country, but other countries that show that it’s helpful when used correctly,” Dr. Roy said.
Opponents just learned of this pharmacy today, and are looking to see if it follows the law.