Louisiana To Expand Medical Marijuana

Photo Credit: Scott Craig

Two bills expanding medical marijuana in Louisiana will become law after Gov. John Bel Edwards signs the last one this weekend.

House Bill 579 by Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, adds Parkinson’s, glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain and post traumatic stress disorder to the 10 conditions currently qualifying for medical marijuana.

Edwards’ spokesman Richard Carbo said the governor planned to sign James’ bill Saturday, the last day Edwards can sign or veto any bills from the Regular Session that ended May 18. Those that aren’t signed or vetoed after Saturday will automatically become law.

“It’s something I’m very proud of because this is a medicine I believe can improve the lives of so many people who are suffering,” James told USA Today Network Friday.

House Bill 672 by Rep. Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey, which the governor has already signed into law, also adds autism to the list of conditions covered.

Supporters of James’ bill to add PTSD have said the medicine could be especially helpful to veterans and combat the nation’s opiod crisis.

Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches, is a military veteran whose son is also a veteran.

“If you want to help American vets coming back this is a bill we need to support,” Cox said previously. His son has suffered with PTSD. “A lot of vets come home and don’t want to take hard drugs (prescription opiods). They need help.”

Both new laws only allow medical marijuana to be taken only as a pill or oil.

Previous conditions covered include: cancer, immunodeficiency, immune deficiency syndrome, wasting syndrome, seizure, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

Medical marijuana may actually finally become available to Louisiana patients this year after an initial bill legalizing it was passed 40 years ago but never was implemented.

A 2016 law paved the way for implementation.

The LSU and Southern University agricultural centers have selected two companies to cultivate and produce medical pot and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy chose distributing pharmacies in April.

Following are the nine pharmacies chosen:

► Michelle and Joe Williams, who have practiced pharmacy in Alexandria for more than 30 years, were awarded the medical marijuana license for central Louisiana. Their marijuana pharmacy, The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, will be located at 403 Bolton Ave.

► Darren Martin was awarded the southeastern Louisiana license. It will be located at 1519 W. Highway 22 in Madisonville.

► Jennifer and Doug Boudreaux and their partner Chris Whittington were awarded the license for the Shreveport Region. They will locate Hope Pharmacy at 1410 E. Kings Highway in Shreveport.

► Partners Greg Morrison and William Windham were awarded the license for the Monroe region. Their pharmacy, Delta Medmar, will be located at 111 McMillan Road in West Monroe.

► The Apothecary Shoppe edged out Acadiana Therapeutic Remedies to earn the license for Lafayette. It will be located at 620 Guilbeau Road in Lafayette.

► H&W Drug Store was awarded the New Orleans Region pharmacy. It will be located at 4718 Paris Ave. in Gentilly.

► Capitol Wellness Solutions was awarded the Capitol Region pharmacy. It will be located at 7941 Picardy Ave.

► Green Leaf Dispensary was awarded the Teche Region pharmacy and will be located 6048 W. Park Ave. in Houma.

► Medicis, the only remaining applicant for the southwestern Louisiana region, was awarded that region’s license and will be located at 1727 Imperial Blvd. in Lake Charles.