The Louisiana Legislature will begin to discuss new medical marijuana legislation beginning on April 13th.
Representative Dalton Honore, a Democrat from Louisiana, has filed a bill that calls for medical marijuana to be dispensed and distributed for medicinal purposes. The bill, known as House Bill 6, or the Louisiana Therapeutic Use of Marijuana Act, would enable patients in Louisiana who are at least 21 years old and suffering from any one of 6 debilitating medical conditions access to medical marijuana. These conditions include:
- Seizure disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Terminal cancer
- Severe nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy
Representative Honore claims that 80% of constituents in Louisiana favor medical marijuana. For this reason Honore believes that it is an appropriate time to reintroduce marijuana legislation.
In 1991, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill that legalized medical marijuana. The bill, however, was flawed in a multitude of ways. The bill allowed for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for glaucoma and cancer, but did not specify how patients could obtain a prescription.
The new bill proposed will set up a system for patients to obtain medicine. The new bill would allow patients access to medical marijuana through state licensed “therapeutic marijuana treatment centers.” Unlike legislation in other states, the bill prohibits patients from cultivating their own medicine.
Honore and Fred Mills, a senator from New Iberia, proposed similar legislation last year but it was shot down by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The bill last year was not approved by the Louisiana Sheriffs Association nor the Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell. State Senator Mills is a pharmacist and he said that he will talk to law enforcement officials to demonstrate the medical benefits of marijuana to streamline the bill through the legislature. “I am willing to compromise so we don’t get in a log jam,” Mills said.
Potential entrants into the Medical Marijuana Cultivation space
In late 2014, the Department of Justice announced that Native Americans can grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands. There are four federally recognized tribes in Louisiana and they could prove to be a catalyst to the marijuana industry in the state. The tribes is Louisiana are:
1. The Chitmacha Tribe
2. The Coushatta Tribe
3. The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians
4. The Tunica‐Biloxi Indian Tribe
Although none of these tribes have come out and said they are looking to get involved in the medical marijuana industry, it is something to monitor. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana owns roughly 5,000 acres of land near Elton in Southwest Louisiana.
More pressure has been put on lawmakers to pass a medical marijuana bill in Louisiana due to 80% of constituents supporting it. Louisiana has a head start on the medical marijuana market, unlike other states, because of previous legislation to legalize medical marijuana. With lawmakers willing to compromise more now than before, we should see law enforcement officials sponsor this upcoming bill more than they did in the past. Technical420 will keep you posted on the latest updates as Louisiana Legislature’s spring session commences in April.