Louisiana may have medical cannabis available by summer 2019

In September 2017, research and biotechnical development company GB Sciences announced its partnership with the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center to produce medical cannabis. Last week, LSU’s Vice President of Agriculture Dr. Richardson said the university and GB Sciences were on track to submitting their final suitability study to state police by Jan. 21. If the crop clears all of its requirements for quality and safety, medical cannabis products could be available in Louisiana dispensaries this summer.


What to know about Louisiana's medical marijuana program heading into 2019

Slowly, Louisiana's medical marijuana program is  gaining some traction toward getting products to patients. 

LSU AgCenter harvested its first crop of marijuana in October. And after more than a year of delays, Southern University's medical marijuana program is now under a new operator that says it will start the build out of a new facility starting early next year and could have crop available by the second quarter of 2019. 

This is a look at where Louisiana's program stands now and what to expect going into 2019.


Louisiana regulators remove 100-patient limit for physicians

More Louisiana residents should have easier access to medical marijuana after state regulators got rid of the rule on Monday that limited the number of patients to which physicians can recommend cannabis.

The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) met Monday to discuss changing rules that currently restrict patient access to medical cannabis, including the cap previously in place that restricted physicians from recommending marijuana to more than 100 of their patients. Dr. Victor Chou, one of the first physicians to receive a license to recommend cannabis in Louisiana told the board that he reached that limit in only two weeks after opening his clinic in Baton Rouge.

“I have a waiting list of 700 patients,” Chou said.


Louisiana's medical marijuana crop halted by state regulations

Louisiana's first medical marijuana crop will take longer to reach patients than originally thought.

The marijuana grower for the LSU AgCenter, GB Sciences, had planned to release product to Louisiana's 9 licensed medical marijuana pharmacies by September. However, the company now says the earliest harvest will likely be in November.

GB Sciences say they're waiting for the state agriculture department, who will regulate the medical marijuana industry in Louisiana, to sign off on their plans.

Louisiana's Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says he's not the reason that the process is stalled. He says GB Sciences has to finish its operating procedures and its background checks with the state police.


Medical marijuana wait: Regulatory hurdle for Louisiana crop

Louisiana's first medical marijuana crop will take longer than expected to reach patients.

GB Sciences, the marijuana grower for the LSU AgCenter, had hoped to provide product to Louisiana's nine licensed medical marijuana pharmacies by September. But the company tells The News-Star the earliest harvest likely will be in November.

John Davis, GB Sciences president, said his company is waiting for the state agriculture department, which is regulating the industry, to sign off on GB Sciences' medical marijuana growing facility plans.

Agriculture Commission Mike Strain said he isn't trying to stall the process. He said GB Sciences has to finish its operating procedures and complete its background checks with the state police.


Guns or marijuana? Some patients will have to make the choice

As Louisiana's medical marijuana program takes shape some patients might have to make a difficult choice: keep their gun ownership rights or participate in the program.

Louisiana is one of 30 states that have approved medical marijuana laws in some form. Although the state's nine dispensaries won't open until later this year, patients who qualify for medical marijuana under Louisiana law may be surprised to learn that federal law restricts their ability to purchase a gun if they use marijuana.


Louisiana adds more aliments to medical marijuana program

Louisiana Governor has signed a bill that extends the state's Medical Marijuana Program to cover more aliments.

It adds glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson's disease to the list of diseases and disorders eligible for medicinal-grade marijuana.

The program still covers the original conditions outlined in the first Medical Marijuana legislation that include: cancer, positive status for HIV, AIDS, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.


Can Louisiana's fledgling medical marijuana industry keep up with expanded demand?

A recent expansion of treatable conditions in Louisiana's fledgling medical marijuana program could grow the industry by millions of dollars and move the state’s once-narrow program closer to a full-blown medical marijuana industry seen in other states.

But those close to the industry also worry that some of the rules on the program will place bottlenecks on production, and wonder whether the state’s two growers — only one of which is close to getting product on the shelves — will be able to meet the heightened demand.


Louisiana expands medical marijuana program eligibility

More Louisiana residents with chronic pain and suffering will be able to seek treatment for their ailments through the state’s medical marijuana program. Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to the expansion proposal a few months ahead of when therapeutic cannabis is expected to be available to patients in the state. The Democratic governor signed the new law Saturday, according to his spokesman Richard Carbo.


Louisiana to expand medical marijuana

Two bills expanding medical marijuana in Louisiana will become law after Gov. John Bel Edwards signs the last one this weekend.

House Bill 579 by Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, adds Parkinson's, glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain and post traumatic stress disorder to the 10 conditions currently qualifying for medical marijuana.

Edwards' spokesman Richard Carbo said the governor planned to sign James' bill Saturday, the last day Edwards can sign or veto any bills from the Regular Session that ended May 18. Those that aren't signed or vetoed after Saturday will automatically become law.

"It's something I'm very proud of because this is a medicine I believe can improve the lives of so many people who are suffering," James told USA Today Network Friday.


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