Louisiana: Medical Cannabis Expansion Laws Take Effect

Louisiana Marijuana Laws

A trio of new laws facilitating patients’ ability to access medical cannabis products goes into effect this Saturday, August 1.

The most significant new measure, House Bill 819, expands the discretion of physicians so that they can recommend cannabis therapy for “any condition” that they consider “debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his [or her] medical education and training to treat.” Under the current law, doctors may only recommend medical cannabis products to those patients with a limited number of select conditions, such as HIV and cancer.

Louisiana joins a handful of other states – including CaliforniaMaine, and Virginia – that have enacted similar measures providing physicians with the ability to recommend medical cannabis preparations to any patient who they believe may benefit from them.

Two additional laws also take effect on Saturday. House Bill 418 provides immunity from prosecution to “any facility that is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health that has patients in its care using medical marijuana,” and House Bill 211 encourages banks and other financial institutions to provide services to state-licensed medical cannabis businesses.

State lawmakers enacted a limited medical cannabis access law in 2016. However, the program did not become operational until August of last year. Currently, fewer than 4,500 patients are registered to access medicinal cannabis products under the law.