In Growing Marijuana in Louisiana – LA Cannabis State Laws (2021) we gave a brief overview on how Louisiana residents can apply to their state’s medical marijuana program. Recreational marijuana is illegal but decriminalized in the Bayou State which is why patients with qualifying conditions need an official recommendation from their physician, approved by the state, to be able to use medical cannabis.
Overview of Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
In June 2015, Gov. Bobby Jindall signed into law HB 149 which set up a framework for dispensing medical cannabis. However, it was only in 2019 that sales of medical marijuana began in the state. In the following year, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 819 which expanded patient access by allowing doctors in good standing to recommend medical marijuana for any condition they deem to be debilitating to the patient.
You can read up on the rules here: HB 819 – MEDICAL MARIJUANA.
In 2021, the governor also signed HB 391 which legalized raw/crude and smokable cannabis products. The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2022. Until that date, patients are only allowed to buy a 30-day supply of non-smokable preparations of marijuana formatted in a 10mg dose limit of THC. Home cultivation of any kind is still not allowed in the state.
- Autism spectrum disorders – This condition can qualify only if it involves self-injury, severe repetitive or self-stimulatory behavior, or severe avoidance of others or inability to communicate, or physically aggressive or destructive behavior that puts the patient’s physical health at risk.
- Cachexia/wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Intractable pain (defined as “pain so chronic or severe as to otherwise warrant an opiate prescription”)
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Seizure disorders/spasticity
- Severe muscle spasms
Louisiana medical marijuana law also says that any health disorder that “a physician, in his medical opinion, considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat.” can be used to qualify.
Even patients under 18 afflicted with a qualifying condition that needs medical marijuana can register for the program, as long as they do so with the help of their parents or legal guardians. Minors patients also need to get the recommendation from a physician who is a pediatric neurologist, pediatric gastroenterologist, pediatric oncologist or pediatric palliative care specialist. However, minors with autism will only qualify if their recommending physician consults with a pediatric subspecialist.
Patients under 18, or those who are too ill to provide care for themselves can have a designated caregiver. The applicant should be:
- A Louisiana resident at least 21 years old
- The parent or legal guardian of the minor patient
Why should you get a medical marijuana card in Louisiana?
Medical marijuana laws in Louisiana are quite unique since there is no medical marijuana program to apply to and therefore, no marijuana card for patients and caregivers. Rather, patients need to consult with a state physician who is certified to issue a recommendation for medical marijuana.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Louisiana
The process of obtaining a recommendation for medical marijuana in Louisiana is different from most states. The patient will have to consult with a physician licensed by and in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to practice medicine in Louisiana. More information on which physicians can recommend medical marijuana can be obtained from the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners.
- Consult with a Louisiana physician licensed to recommend medical marijuana. Provide your Driver’s license or state ID as proof of identity and residence. Furnish your physician with your health records as well, it will be the basis for the recommendation.
- If you are found to be qualified, your physician will be the one to send your approval to any of the nine dispensaries licensed by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to sell marijuana to patients and caregivers.
If you’re a patient in Louisiana who needs medical marijuana for your debilitating condition, you will have to consult with a physician to get a recommendation. The good thing though is that your physician can recommend marijuana for any condition they deem qualified. You no longer have to register to a program or need a card to be able to buy and use marijuana, but this also means that you won’t be able to buy and use in other states.