Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Louisiana passed SB 143 in 2015, which paved the way for medical marijuana legalization in the state. After a few amendments and distribution of licenses, patients will finally have access to cannabis medicine in the last third of 2018.
Together with the Louisiana State Legislature, select departments of the State developed licensing and regulations for the state’s medicinal cannabis industry. Patients with certain debilitating conditions may request a recommendation from a licensed doctor.
The state’s two main suppliers of marijuana medicine will have their first available products in late summer 2018 and the beginning of 2019. If you plan to become eligible before these dates, you may have to wait for dispensaries to receive their first stock.
SB 143, Louisiana’s original medical marijuana bill, authorized treatment for the following conditions:
In 2018, two bills passed that made more diagnoses eligible, just in time for initial access. On May 23rd, the Louisiana Legislature made autism spectrum disorder a qualifying disorder under one or more of these circumstances:
Then, effective August 1, 2018, the Legislature added more conditions to the list:
To become a patient in Louisiana, you must follow these steps and meet certain requirements, as well:
The language used by some patients and official sources reference “prescriptions” and “pharmacies” when describing medical marijuana. However, doctors can’t prescribe illegal drugs under federal law. As a Schedule I substance, marijuana cannot go on a pharmacy’s shelves or a doctor’s prescription.
In compliance with U.S. law, doctors recommend cannabis medicine instead of prescribing it. Dispensaries, not pharmacies, sell medicinal marijuana. If you see the terms “marijuana prescription” or “marijuana pharmacy,” verify the source of information and the mentioned establishment.
As of August 2018, the Louisiana State Legislature has yet to define the “30-day supply” that serves as a patient’s possession limit. They may clarify this definition before cannabis medicine becomes available. However, please consult your doctor and dispensary before possessing a significant amount of medicine.
The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy rules that they will issue up to 10 dispensary licenses throughout the state. To ensure all parts of Louisiana have access to cannabis medicine, they outlined nine regions that will each receive one permit. Once they have data on patient recommendations and sales, the Board may grant a 10th license based on need.
Even with a recommendation, Louisiana patients cannot cultivate their own marijuana plants. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry issued two growing licenses throughout the whole state. These permits went to Louisiana State University and Southern University, who both partner with outside companies to grow and produce medicine. You will find this medicine at the nine authorized dispensaries.
Unless the Louisiana State Legislature changes the law before cannabis medicine becomes accessible, a doctor can only serve 100 medical marijuana patients at once. Verify if the doctor can take more patients before trying to make an appointment.