Louisiana Changes Medical Marijuana Law

Rabin Nabizadeh
April 29, 2015

In a surprising turn a Louisiana legislative panel, medical marijuana dispensaries may eventually be available for patients in the state.  Unlike California, where patients have had access to medical marijuana in various forms since the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and Medical Marijuana Program Act of 2003, and Colorado, where marijuana for medical and recreational purposes was fully legalized last year, Louisiana’s potential new medical marijuana law would be comparatively restrictive.

There is already a strange gap in the law.  Although the Louisiana legislature passed a law in 1991 that allows medical marijuana, patients have had no way to gain access to it legally.  In other words, doctors can prescribe it, patients can use it, but they cannot buy it legally.  Now, lawmakers are trying to change that, and it seems that they might finally be successful (Louisiana Senate Bill 143).

In California, the first state in the union to legally allow for medical marijuana usage (Prop 215), patients are able to use, possess, and grow marijuana for medical usage.  It requires that patients are recommended by their physician for such usage, but not that they acquire an official ID card, although this oftentimes can assist patients if they fall under the scrutiny of law enforcement agents (CA Health and Safety Code 11357-11362.9).

California law dictates that there are no limits specified for medical marijuana possession; home cultivation is also allowed and no limits are specified here either.  While the state of California allows for medical marijuana to be prescribed for a number of physiological conditions, Louisiana law will only take glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, and chemotherapy-related conditions to be covered under the possible new law.

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