Those in Louisiana having a physician recommendation for medical marijuana were able to buy cannabis for the first time Tuesday, four years after the state agreed to provide patients with access to the drug.
Louisiana has two state-sanctioned producers, GB Sciences and Wellcana Group, LLC that will process the cannabis for the newly minted medical program. At this time, only the agricultural centres at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow medicinal-grade cannabis.
In a press release, John Davis, president of GB Sciences Louisiana, calls the green light for medical cannabis a “watershed moment” that reflects many years of research and development. “For the first time, medical cannabis patients in Louisiana have access to safe, tested products with formulations designed to improve their health and well-being.”
There is currently a limited list of conditions for which cannabis is an approved treatment with cannabis. Those conditions are: cancer, positive status for HIV, AIDS, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s Disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Potential patients must obtain a recommendation from a certified physician and those recommendations must be filled at one of the state’s nine licensed pharmacies.
State Senator Fred Mills, who sponsored the medical marijuana bill back in 2015, never thought it would take years for patients to gain access. “The toughest thing has been not being able to give people a definitive timeline that they could make plans for,” Mills told the Associated Press.
The senator has been navigating multiple “difficult calls” from people with cancer, seizures and other debilitating conditions, and their family members asking when cannabis will reach pharmacy shelves. AP News reports the process was slowed by regulatory disagreements with growers, distributors and the state.
Among the first in line for legal sales was a Marine veteran struggling with PTSD and a woman fighting cancer.
Louisiana joins more than 30 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form. While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S., a congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with a state’s medical marijuana programs.
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Written by Ashley Keenan