For over two decades now the government officials of Louisiana have been keeping their medical marijuana program far from the eyes and ears of the public. If you’re living in America and legalization of marijuana is important for you, then you’ve probably heard of Louisiana’s strictness for all things related to cannabis. We might even argue that Louisiana is/was the worst – the most infamous among American states when marijuana is concerned. Well, it seems like things are about to change in Louisiana because someone has pulled the medical marijuana program out of the drawer and wants to make it into law.
Headed to governor’s desk
The governor is expected to sign Louisiana’s medical marijuana legislation after the majority of the state’s Senate voted in favor of it, which was the last step required to make Louisiana the 24th state with legal framework all set and ready to get medical marijuana to patients. Last month Governor Bobby Jindal expressed his support for medical marijuana legislation in Louisiana and said he would sign the bill if it got to his desk, which is probably happening right now. There are three bills in play – two of them are almost identical and intend to reduce a second marijuana offense from felony to misdemeanor and allow first-time convictions for simple possession to be erased after two years, while smaller amounts of marijuana are set for a simple possession charge. The third bill is expected to set up a legal framework for patients who need medical marijuana as a part of their treatment. Simply put, it would allow the patients to actually get the drug if their doctor recommends it.
Louisiana legalized medical marijuana 24 years ago
Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. Technically, medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 1971. So what happened with that? Well, the state never made any rules that would regulate growing, distributing or prescribing marijuana. The language of the law allowed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana rather than offer recommendations (these can be offered under the First Amendment), which is how the rest of the 23 states and Washington D.C. have managed to find their way around the federal government that considers marijuana a Schedule I drug (equally dangerous as heroine). Because of this, physicians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis to their patients, and if they do, they run the risk of losing their DEA license and being sent to prison.
Changing the language of the bill
For reasons described above, the Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare came forward and made some adjustments to one of the bills, more precisely, they changed the language to clarify that physicians would provide recommendations to their patients instead of prescriptions. Once the law is set into motion, patients suffering from glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia or whose undergoing cancer chemotherapy would be able to get the recommendation for medical marijuana from their physician. More conditions and diseases are expected to be added to the list.