Putting together the medical marijuana program in the conservative Southern state of Louisiana is bringing forth an extense regulation process, strict growing procedures, and a lengthy selection of the foremost players. The entire program will face a legislative review to determine if it will exist beyond January 1, 2020, and it hasn’t even begun yet.
A law passed in 2015 made medical marijuana legal for qualifying patients in the state. Unfortunately, these patients will continue to wait for nearly another year because growing facilities still require renovation and dispensing pharmacies have not yet been chosen. The law will in time bring medicinal-grade marijuana to patients with cancer, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, muscular dystrophy amongst other diseases. Marijuana will only be available in the form of oils, pills, sprays and topical applications.
The only approved centers to grow the states medical marijuana are LSU and Southern. Ten pharmacies will be chosen to distribute the medication to patients and doctors are required to obtain permission from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners before being able to recommend the drug to their patients.
Both universities selected their vendors. LSU has completed its contract with GB Sciences and Southern has selected Advanced Biomedics who are still in the process of finalizing the terms of the agreement.
The Board of Medical Examiners has been processing applications and approving physician permission to recommend medical marijuana their patients. Doctors will not be writing a traditional prescription, yet a recommendation form will be utilized. Dispensing pharmacies still have not yet been selected and are unable to sell any other kind of prescription drugs, under rules established by the Board of Pharmacy. The Board of Pharmacy aims to issue permit nine state-designated health care territories.
Growers of medical marijuana have twenty-three pages of regulations to abide by from the agriculture department. Inventory tracking systems are required, packaging cannot appeal to children, and surveillance requirements are intense with provisions for even where cameras should be placed to name a few. Under LSU’s contract with GB Sciences, the grower must hire two off-duty deputies from the Parish Sheriff’s Office during all hours of operation.
Louisiana lawmakers are not taking any chances.