A bill was passed on Wednesday evening in the Louisiana House that would allow patients access to a low-THC oil. The bill is an improvement on the current Louisiana medical marijuana law which allows only patients with 1 of 3 conditions to be prescribed medical marijuana, despite the fact that patients would have no access to purchase their medication anywhere. The new bill would add disorders that produce seizures and other debilitating illnesses to the list of conditions that qualify for treatment. An important component in the bill would allow for a very restricted in-state cultivation program to be put in place. This would facilitate a system that allows patients to be able to have access to the medication.
Determining Who Will Manufacture the Oil
State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans told the House it could be anywhere between 18 months and 2 years before full Louisiana medical marijuana infrastructure would be in place, allowing patients access to the medical marijuana oil. Southern University and LSU must now decide on whether they will produce the oil. If the universities refuse to produce the medication, the state would contract a private organization to manufacture the oil. THC is the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana users the high. The oil would contain a very small amount of THC and focus on other compounds within marijuana that have medicinal effects.
Overwhelming Support for Louisiana Medical Marijuana
There are many in Louisiana who have been lobbying for this change. Advocates and parents of sick children were not the only ones pushing for change. A spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards said that First Lady Donna Edwards herself had been calling members of the House sharing support for passing the bill and urging them to do the same. A recent poll showed that 72 percent of Louisiana residents support medical marijuana legislation. Rep. Terry Landry cited the poll, assuring the House that the majority of residents want the change. He said, “The fear that people are going to vote against it at home just doesn’t hold water. The notion that this leads to legalization is nonsense. It’s fear mongering.”
Personal Experience Brought Before the House
State Rep. Mike Huval, a Breaux Bridge Republican, talked with the House about his own personal experiences. His brother has one of the qualifying debilitating conditions that would be treated by medical marijuana. He said had his brother had access, “The pain he endured hopefully would’ve been taken care of by this miracle medication.” He pleaded with the House to think about how they would feel if their loved ones couldn’t access medication that would treat them. He said “before you vote today, will this miracle drug maybe be needed by someone you love? Please consider that.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for approval. It is expected to receive only very minor adjustments before being sent to the Governor for final approval. Should the bill pass all the final stages, Louisiana medical marijuana legislation would finally allow the state to create the infrastructure to help residents to receive access to much-needed treatment.