The long wait for access to medical cannabis in Louisiana is over for hundreds of qualifying patients, as dispensaries receive their first state-approved shipment on Tuesday.
It has been four years since the Deep South state of Louisiana approved laws to grant qualifying patients access to medical marijuana. On Tuesday, the long wait ended for some as the first round of state-approved medical cannabis made its way to dispensaries.
“We’re super-excited. The first patient will be getting medical marijuana here,” Randy Mire, owner of Capitol Wellness Solutions in Baton Rouge, told the Associated Press.
Mire said he will only see three patients Tuesday, two of which are cancer patients and one a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but added that hundreds more are waiting. Like other Louisiana dispensary owners, Mire scheduled appointments for patients to be able to pick up medical marijuana liquid tinctures, the first and only product available at this time.
As of now, Louisiana state law allows for only certain forms of medical marijuana, none of which are smokeable. The approved forms include oils, pills, liquids, topical applications, and via a device similar to an inhaler. Cannabis flower will not be on the menu.
Doug Boudreaux, a pharmacist and co-owner of Hope Pharmacy in Shreveport, also opened Tuesday to see patients by appointment only.
“We should have all of the patients taken care of in the next six days,” Boudreaux told the AP. “We’ve been calling patients for the past week and a half.”
Nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical cannabis in Louisiana and most are set to open this week. As of now, only two places have the authorization to grow medical marijuana– Louisiana State University and Southern University.
The Long Wait for Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 2015 after state lawmakers created the regulatory framework for the production and sale of medical marijuana. Even prior to becoming operational, the state’s medical marijuana program was expanded in 2018 to add more qualifying conditions including autism and PTSD.
Many regulatory hurdles have postponed the sale of medical cannabis. According to the AP, disagreements between GB Sciences, one of the two state-approved growers, Louisiana State University, and regulators in the state’s agriculture department held up the process of getting medical cannabis products on the shelves.
State Sen. Fred Mills, a pharmacist and the sponsor of the medical marijuana law, told the Associated Press that he never imagined the wait would be so long for patients.
Mills reported having repeatedly received “difficult calls” from Louisiana residents facing cancer, seizures and other devastating conditions, in addition to family members of those suffering asking when medical marijuana will be available for their loved ones.
“The toughest thing has been not being able to give people a definitive timeline that they could make plans for,” Mills said.
Louisiana joins more than 30 other states that have introduced a state medical marijuana program. For more information on the state’s policy on cannabis, visit our Louisiana Marijuana Laws page.
More Cannabis Legalization News
Learn where else throughout the United States medical marijuana is legal through our Where is Marijuana Legal? page. To learn more about the latest in cannabis regulation and legalization on the state level, visit our news page.