Updated on May 11, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The Louisiana State Legislature signed Senate Bill 143 into law in 2015, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, making Louisiana one of the first states in the south to authorize a medical marijuana program. Since then, patients have been waiting for an expansion of access.
In March 2016, SB 271 made amendments to SB 143 that allowed it to comply with federal law. These laws removed state-level penalties for certain marijuana-related activities for patients with recommendations from certified doctors. SB 180 and SB 35 added protections for patients and dispensary staff members. Acts 708 and 496 of the 2018 legislative session expanded the state’s list of qualifying conditions.
To qualify for a recommendation, a patient must have one of the qualifying conditions determined by the state. They then must receive an evaluation from a doctor specially licensed by the state to recommend medical marijuana. If their doctor considers them eligible, the written recommendation allows the patient to purchase cannabis medicine at a dispensary. Patients can choose from a wide variety of medicinal product types, but they may not smoke marijuana in any form or consume it raw.
In Louisiana, possession laws are as follows:
Distribution and cultivation in Louisiana has the following legislation:
Laws related to concentrates and hash usage are:
At the time of writing, only the city of New Orleans has local laws decriminalizing marijuana. In 2016, the city approved of softer penalties against anyone over 17 carrying less than two and a half pounds of cannabis. Both first-time and subsequent offenders can receive a court summons instead of an arrest. However, these rules don’t apply to anyone found in a drug-free zone such as a church or school.