Louisiana widening access to medical marijuana under new law

MELINDA DESLATTE

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More Louisiana residents will have access to medical marijuana under a significant expansion of the state's therapeutic cannabis program that was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The changes in the law, which take effect in August, allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any patient they believe it would help, and remove restrictions on which doctors can recommend cannabis.

The state House and Senate agreed to the bill — sponsored by Republican Rep. Larry Bagley of Stonewall, the chairman of the House health committee —- in the regular session that ended June 1. The House voted 75-16 for the measure, while the Senate agreed in a 28-6 vote.

Edwards, a Democrat, announced Monday evening that he had signed the bill into law.

Under a 2015 law and additional changes passed since then, Louisiana allowed cannabis to treat a long list of diseases and disorders including cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

Bagley’s legislation expands that to include any condition that a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient.” In addition, the new law will no longer require doctors to register with and receive authorization from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to recommend cannabis for patients.

Only the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow cannabis in Louisiana, and only nine dispensaries can provide it to patients. LSU’s grower has been selling products since August, while Southern’s grower hasn’t yet started its sales.

Marijuana can be available in oils, pills, liquids, topical applications and in an inhaler, such as that used by asthma patients — but not in a smokeable form. LSU’s grower currently offers cannabis in a flavored liquid tincture, a bottle containing a dropper to use, but the company has said it intends to expand that to also include dissolving strips taken by mouth.

___

House Bill 819: www.legis.la.gov

___

Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

More From

  • Thais bid addio to theater where they fell in love with film

    If Hollywood is where dreams are made, Bangkok’s Scala theater for the past 51 years was where Thais immersed themselves in the old-fashioned blockbusters of war, the heart-felt romances and quirky comedies. The picture palace in the center of Thailand’s capital, the city’s last standalone big-screen cinema, on Sunday screened its final offering. It was a piquant choice, 1988′s “Cinema Paradiso,” a nostalgic Oscar-winning Italian film about a bygone movie house in a Sicilian village.

  • NHL, NHLPA agree on protocols to resume season

    The NHL and NHL Players' Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process. A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement.

  • Tropical Storm Edouard forms over far North Atlantic Ocean

    Tropical Storm Edouard formed on Sunday evening over the far North Atlantic, but posed no immediate threat to land. The storm had top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was centered at 11 p.m. EDT about 685 miles (1,100 kilometers) south-southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, off Canada, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. No coastal storm watches or warnings are in effect, and little significant change in strength was forecast for the brief period Edouard was expected to remain a tropical storm.

  • Today in History for July 6th

    Highlights of this day in history: John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet for first time; Baseball's first All-Star Game; Outbreak of the Biafran War; Painter Frida Kahlo born; Althea Gibson wins at Wimbledon; Singing cowboy Roy Rogers dies. (July 6)