Gov. Edwards signs medical marijuana expansion bill into law

Louisiana

Jake Crisco, general manager of the Green Leaf Medical Cannibis facility holds a mature bud of marijuana at the company’s plant in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 17, 2021. The date for legalizing marijuana possession is drawing near in Virginia, and advocacy groups have been flooded with calls from people trying to understand exactly what becomes legal in July. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — A bill that would allow doctors in Louisiana to prescribe marijuana in its raw, smokable form to patients has been signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards.

ACT 424/HB 391, a bill proposed by Houma Rep. Tanner Magee, will add raw marijuana in the smokable form to a list of products already available for sale at Louisiana’s medical marijuana dispensaries, which currently sell cannabis in liquids, topical applications, inhalers, and edible gummies. The expansion will start in January 2022.

The bill was passed on Wednesday, June 2, and sent to the governor’s desk with a 76-17 vote of the House, and a 23-14 vote of the Senate.

The raw, smokable marijuana plant is cheaper to produce and sell because it involves less processing. According to officials, the bill represents another widening of the rules for a program that lawmakers have steadily expanded since enacting the dispensing framework in 2015.

Originally, the program was tightly limited to a few medical conditions. Under a change lawmakers passed last year, doctors in Louisiana can now recommend medical marijuana for any patient they believe it would help.

But only the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow cannabis in Louisiana, and only nine dispensaries can provide it to patients. Efforts to broaden the growing operations have failed to gain traction.

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