Louisiana Close to Legalizing Medical Marijuana

   

The times look to be a-chaingin’ as Louisiana is poised to legalize medical marijuana after both chambers of the legislature has passed a medical law and Governor Bobby Jindal has signaled that he will sign the bill. Additionally, Governor Jindal has stated his support for decreasing penalties for marijuana possessed by non-patients as well. The Times-Picayune reports on the medicinal cannabis measure:

Those with doctor’s recommendation could obtain the drug in non-smokable form – like oils or a pill — at one of 10 dispensaries scattered across the state. The bill authorizes one growing — or cultivation — site.

The cultivation site was originally supposed to have been selected through a public bid process. But an amendment added on the House floor Thursday gives first priority to the LSU and Southern University Ag Centers to host the site, if the centers want the job.

The bill restricts the use of medical marijuana to patients suffering from glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. However, the legislation requests that the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners submit recommendations of other qualifying conditions or diseases — like epilepsy or AIDS — that should be added to the list. The deadline for those recommendations is 60 days before the next legislative session.

As marijuana law reform has swept across the nation, conservative states in the South have lagged behind the rest of the country. A few factors have curtailed reform efforts in conservative areas of the country. Arkansas is one of the few states to defeat a medical marijuana legalization measure (albeit narrowly) and Florida’s medical marijuana measure garnered 58% of the vote, falling just 2% shy of satisfying Florida’s 60% barrier. Republicans tend to dominate conservative states’ governments and the GOP traditionally hasn’t supported cannabis law reform as much as Democrats and independents. Also, few southern states have the initiative process and initiative states have led the way in improving marijuana laws as politicians have lagged behind the public on the issue. While not perfect, the bill is a step in the right direction and will hopefully lead to greater reform in Louisiana and help convince other conservative states to follow suit.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.