Medical marijuana patients

Pharmacist T.J. Woodard describes a medical marijuana product, a tincture applied under the tongue with a dropper, at Capitol Wellness Solutions in Baton Rouge on Aug. 6, 2019. Albert Anthony, center, and his wife Jeanette Anthony were among the first people in Louisiana to legally buy a therapeutic cannabis product.

(The Center Square) – The Louisiana House voted overwhelmingly Monday to allow Louisiana patients to smoke marijuana for therapeutic reasons.

Medical cannabis is legal in Louisiana but smoking the raw plant is not part of the medical marijuana program. While most states have legalized medical cannabis, Louisiana and Minnesota are the only ones that don’t allow smokeable marijuana, according to Rep. Tanner Magee, the Houma Republican who authored House Bill 391, which would authorize the expansion.

Magee said smoking the flower is cheaper and allows patients to take a less concentrated dose compared with using the tinctures currently available. State residents who want smokeable medical marijuana will just go to Mississippi or Arkansas rather than using Louisiana’s program, he said.

Lawmakers launched the state’s medical marijuana program in 2016, though the first products were not available to patients until 2019. While the Louisiana Legislature initially limited the program to patients with a designated list of ailments, doctors now can recommend medical marijuana to any patient they think will benefit.

Magee’s bill would lift the prohibition on doctors recommending marijuana in the raw or inhalation form. Authorized pharmacies could dispense up to up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days to a given patient.

House members voted 73-26 to send HB 391 to the Senate.

Under Magee’s proposal, marijuana would remain illegal for nonmedical usage. However, other measures lawmakers are considering in this year’s session would legalize marijuana for all adults 21 and over.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.