Updated on May 11, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Louisiana Medical Marijuana Facts
After a false start in 2015 due to legal technicalities, Louisiana began the formation of its medical marijuana program in 2016. During the next two years, the state established licensed growers, dispensaries and doctors.
As of August 2018, Louisiana is on-course to have marijuana medicine available by the end of the summer. Patients with conditions such as chronic pain, seizures and glaucoma will soon have the option to medicate naturally.
Facts About Marijuana in Louisiana
Here are a few facts about medical marijuana in Louisiana:
- Despite Louisiana’s notoriety for its drug laws, it was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana. Forty years ago, in 1978, the Louisiana State Legislature signed a bill that legalized medical marijuana. This law permitted patients with glaucoma or chemotherapy-related side effects to use An additional law in 1991 added spastic quadriplegia to the list. However, technicalities prevented these patients from obtaining medicine.
- The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy issues up to 10 dispensary permits at once throughout the entire state. As of the start of program operations in 2018, they have nine active licenses — one for each of their designated regions.
- Southern University became the first historically black college to start a medical marijuana program in 2018. They have one of only two growing licenses issued in the state — LSU holds the other one. Black people often face disproportionate bias in marijuana arrests and industry representation. So, this development looks promising, especially in a state where 61 percent of marijuana arrests involve black people.
- Marijuana already has the status of a Schedule I drug under United States federal law. However, it also has a classification of Schedule I(C) hallucinogenic substance under Louisiana state law. Concentrate possession cases receive the same penalties as plant possession.
- The two major universities that grow marijuana, LSU and Southern University, also conduct research. They work together with their contractors to create medicine tailored to qualifying conditions. LSU plans to launch a continuing education program for doctors that explains the symptoms each of their medications relieve.
- Instead of using terms like “recommendation” and “dispensary” to describe aspects of the medical marijuana program, many state departments use “prescription” and “pharmacy.” Due to federal law, “marijuana prescriptions” still count as recommendations, and “marijuana pharmacies” are actually dispensaries.
- In 2018, Governor John Bel Edwards received a B grade on NORML’s annual governors scorecard. The scorecard grades U.S. governors based on their voting records and public comments on marijuana policy. Before the report, he enacted three bills and made five public comments in support of medicinal cannabis. Louisiana received one out of the just two B grades attained by southern states.
- Louisiana’s medical marijuana program does not require patients to join a registry or get a medical cannabis card. They can directly request a recommendation from a physician and take it to a dispensary. However, certain patients may have more barriers to access than others based on location and diagnosis.
Check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com for up-to-date facts and critical information for patients. Schedule an appointment with a certified doctor today to learn more about Louisiana medical cannabis.