News, Politics

Louisiana Expands Medical Program and Offers Banking Assurance

July 2, 2020 10:49 am ET
Louisiana Expands Medical Program and Offers Banking Assurance

Louisiana has had a medical cannabis program for many years. However, for patients to qualify for access to medical cannabis, they must have received a diagnosis of at least one of the 14 qualifying conditions that were initially approved under the initial law. These conditions included but were not limited to conditions such as PTSD, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizure Disorders, HIV/AIDS, Epilepsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and Wasting Syndrome.

The Bill as Passed

In late May, Louisiana lawmakers discussed a bill that would significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program and offer access to thousands of more patients in the state that may benefit from cannabinoid therapies. The original bill as drafted would have only opened the door to patients that had suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion. However, an amendment was added that would allow doctors in the state to provide a medical cannabis recommendation for any condition they deem fit.

The Senate also added language that requires dispensaries to record medical cannabis purchases under the program in the state prescription monitoring program database. The final approved bill was sent to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk on June 1st.

Another piece of legislation included a provision to allow cannabis businesses to have equal rights and access to banking despite their affiliation with cannabis. This is something that many cannabis-related businesses struggle with despite state-level legalization due to the illegality of cannabis at the federal level.

The Bill Has Been Signed by the Louisiana Governor – Now What?

According to several media reports on June 16th, the Governor signed the legislation into law with all approved amendments. Now that the bill has been signed, as of August 1st., Louisiana patients hoping to utilize medical cannabis for treatment can now receive a doctor’s recommendation if they suffer from a condition that their physician fills may benefit from cannabinoid therapies.

Within the signed bill there was also a resolution that calls for the creation of a task force that will be responsible for studying and making recommendations related to the cannabis industry projected workforce demand. Lawmakers also sent a regulation proposal for hemp and CBD, however, the Governor has not acted on that piece of legislation at this time. 

According to NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, “This is a common-sense legislation that provides physicians, not lawmakers, the ability and discretion to decide what treatment options are best for their patients.” Paul went on to statejust as doctors are entrusted to make decisions with regard to the supervised use of opioids and other medicines – many of which pose far greater risks to patients than cannabis – the law should provide doctors with similar flexibility when it comes to recommending cannabis therapy to a bona fide patient.”

We couldn’t agree more with this statement and feel that every medical cannabis program in the United States should provide physicians with this ability. This is what I like to call a comprehensive medical cannabis program, something many states do not offer. Now if they would only allow for patients to grow their own medicine… it would be a dream come true for many.

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