Patients have long been waiting for medical cannabis to be available in Louisiana. The state has legalized medical weed since 2015, but four years have passed and patients still couldn’t get their hands on the drug.
Well, the long wait is finally over.
Louisiana officially starts offering medical cannabis
Patients who have a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis were able to buy the drug for the very first time on August 6.
There are two state-sanctioned cannabis producers in Louisiana: Wellcana Group, LLC, and GB Sciences. These two companies will process the plants for the state’s newly established medical cannabis program. The plants are from the Louisiana State University and Southern University, the only agricultural centers that are currently authorized to cultivate medicinal-grade cannabis.
Conditions for medical cannabis treatment
As of now, there is a limited list of conditions that would qualify an individual to avail of medical cannabis treatment. These qualifying conditions include cancer, epilepsy, seizure disorders, positive status for HIV, AIDS, wasting disorder (cachexia), spasticity, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable pain, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Qualified patients need to obtain a recommendation from a certified doctor. This recommendation must be filled at one of the state-licensed pharmacies.
So far, there are nine pharmacies that have been awarded a license to distribute medical cannabis to patients.
State Senator Fred Mills sponsored the medical cannabis bill in 2015. He said he never thought it would take years before patients could access to it.
While a lot of people expected that it would take at least until 2018 for the medical cannabis framework to be put in place and for the drug to be made available, patients started getting impatient about weed not being available well into 2019.
Mills shared that the hardest thing about it is not being able to give patients a definitive timeline. He has been navigating so many calls from people who suffer from cancer and other debilitating illnesses and their family members asking when the drug will reach the shelves.
According to previous reports, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry held off authorizing the sales until testing laboratories gave the products the all-clear. The department said that while they are working to get the product out, there is just no rushing and cutting corners when it comes to testing.
The department even set the goal of releasing the products in May. However, that timeline was not met.
Associated Press reports that the process has been slowed down by regulatory disagreements with distributors and growers.