Is Medical-Only Weed Legal in Louisiana?

August 26, 2021
Medical weed Louisina
Medical weed Louisina

Is Marijuana Legal in the State of Louisiana?

Louisianans from places such as Baton Rouge or New Orleans can only access weed legally if they have a medical card provided by Louisiana. It permits them to purchase cannabis exclusively from a legal state-licensed dispensaries.  Recreational marijuana remains illegal throughout the Pelican State.

 

History of Weed Laws

Technically, Louisiana first legalized medical marijuana in 1991, but the law was ultimately unsuccessful as it used the term “prescribe,” which went against federal law declaring that no physician can prescribe marijuana.  Years after, the law was finally changed to remove the term “prescribe” from the literature, establish a list of qualifying conditions, and set up a regulatory body to oversee the medical marijuana industry throughout the state, managed by the Department of Health and Hospitals, effectively named the Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Board.  However, these changes never went anywhere, as no initiative was taken to begin providing a medical marijuana program for patients.

 

In 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 271, which officially launched the state’s fully operational medical marijuana program, acting as the first state in the Deep South to do so.  Two years later, the list of qualifying conditions was expanded upon to provide medical marijuana access to a more diverse group of patients with debilitating conditions. 

 

Finally, in 2020, this list of qualifying conditions was removed as the state determined that physicians could decide whether or not patients qualified on a case-by-case basis. 

 

The state does not use dispensaries, but instead entrusts physicians with the role of sending orders for marijuana directly to state-approved pharmacies, to be picked up by patients. 

  • HB 211 protected banks and physicians.
  • HB 418 protected hospitals from state marijuana-related prosecution.  
  • HB 819 both expanded the list of qualifying conditions and made it obsolete by allowing physicians to recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they are qualified to treat if they believe the patient will benefit.

 

Regulation Authority

The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners oversees the state’s medical marijuana program for physicians. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry oversees regulations governing the cultivation, processing, and testing of cannabis. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy is responsible for licensing dispensaries, determining allowable forms of cannabis, and developing testing rules.

 

Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Louisiana?

Louisiana does not have dispensaries, and recreational users cannot legally purchase cannabis in the state.  The only way to purchase cannabis is by having a physician order it to a state-authorized pharmacy where it can be picked up.  Patients can purchase up to a month’s supply at one time.  Note that concentrates are not sold in the state of Louisiana, and flower is prohibited as well, in order to control dosage amounts.

 

Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

It is illegal to consume cannabis in public even if you are authorized to take it for medicinal purposes.  This means that patients can only consume marijuana products on private property, such as their own home or on the grounds of a person who has granted permission for cannabis to be used.  It is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, even if you are medically authorized to take it, as this can result in criminal charges as it is viewed as driving under the influence.

 

Despite the fact that the state only recognizes certain pharmacies as authorized to provide medical marijuana, there are authorized pharmacies dispersed throughout the state so that any medical marijuana patient can access one with relative ease.

 

Possession Laws

Louisiana permits patients to possess up to a month’s supply of cannabis at any given time, and the amount that is considered a month’s supply is determined by the physician, as each patient may require a different daily dosage level depending on their circumstances.  It is illegal to possess any type of smokable cannabis product regardless of medical status, as unprocessed cannabis is considered illegal in the state.

 

Can Residents Grow Their Own?

Louisiana prohibits the cultivation of cannabis on private or public property.  This means that you cannot grow your own weed even if you have been authorized to take it for medicinal purposes.  Anyone who is caught growing their own cannabis can face criminal charges, including drug-trafficking charges.

 

Medical Marijuana

LA does not formally have a medical marijuana registry.  Instead, a patient’s physician will diagnose a patient with a debilitating condition before sending a cannabis order to a pharmacy.  Cannabis sales are carefully tracked to ensure that the entire process adheres to state regulations.

 

The state has recently adjusted its laws to permit anyone with a debilitating condition, as diagnosed by their physician, to be eligible for medical marijuana.  The state has maintained a formal qualifying conditions list, however, which is now used more as a general guideline for practicing physicians.

 

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia or sickle cell disease
  • Concussion
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hospice or palliative care
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Intractable pain
  • Lewy-body dementia
  • Motor-neuron disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizure disorders
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Spastic quadriplegia
  • Spasticity
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Traumatic brain injury

 

Patient Qualifications:

Louisiana residents are qualified for medical marijuana as long as their physician approves it as a form of treatment based on their medical status.  The physician must continue to provide care to the patient throughout their time using marijuana.

 

How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Louisiana

There is no state-managed registry process for medical marijuana patients, as the process is directly handled between a patient’s physician and a pharmacy that receives a cannabis order and provides it directly to the patient. 

 

Qualifying as a Caregiver

In Louisiana, a caregiver can only be assigned to a patient if the patient is a minor who has autism spectrum disorder, and if the caregiver is the patient’s parent or legal guardian. 

 

Registering as a Caregiver

In order to register as a caregiver on a minor’s behalf, the individual needs to fill out an application through the state to be approved to purchase cannabis.  They will receive a medical card that permits them to purchase cannabis for the patient.

 

Reciprocity Laws

Louisiana does not have reciprocity laws, which means that out-of-state visitors with medical cards cannot purchase cannabis in Louisiana dispensaries.  Only Louisiana residents are permitted to possess and purchase cannabis for medicinal use.

 

Lab-Testing

All cannabis products sold in Louisiana must first undergo third-party testing by a state-approved laboratory.  This testing process checks the samples of cannabis for their cannabinoid profile, contaminants, solvents and other impurities and unwanted compounds.  Adding to that, products are checked to ensure that they contain a maximum of 10mg of THC per serving.