On Friday, the Louisiana House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved bills that would significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program. Residents suffering from debilitating conditions, especially those who cannot access medical marijuana, will now be happy to know that the medical marijuana program will have its list of qualifying conditions expanded to fit a wider range of ailments. Dispensaries will also be allowed to deliver marijuana products directly to the patients’ homes.
Both bills were sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley, with his medical condition expansion bill passed 76-15 and the delivery bill was approved 80-15. This comes a week after a Louisiana House Committee approved both bills as well as several other cannabis expansion bills and sent them to the full House for debate. In a broad sense, the expansion bill will permit doctors to issue recommendations for any debilitating condition instead of the short list of conditions that is currently allowed by law.
When it was originally drafted, the expansion legislation would have simply added traumatic brain injury and concussions to the list of qualifying conditions. However, it was amended in the committee to add several other conditions and language that states cannabis can be recommended for any condition that a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient.” Currently, Louisiana has a list of 14 conditions including cancer, epilepsy, severe muscle spasms and Parkinson’s disease that qualify one for a medical marijuana prescription.
“I’ll say this, I have never been a proponent of medical marijuana. I voted against every piece of legislation that came down because I just didn’t believe in it and I thought there was an ulterior motive. But now, constituents in my area, they come to me and they ask me for help because they’re having pain, they can’t find things to cure the pain. They’re using opioids, some of them, they’ve got problems that the doctors can’t seem to help. So this is just another avenue. Now their personal physician can write them a prescription for cannabis and they can get it. Who knows you better than your personal physician? I thought it made perfect sense,” says bill sponsor Bagley.
The cannabis delivery bill, on the other hand, would require the government to establish “procedures and regulations relative to delivery of dispensed marijuana to patients by designated employees or agents of the pharmacy.” Both bills now head to the State Senate for consideration.
Analysts believe that industry players like The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) are hoping that the state senate thinks about the plight of patients with debilitating conditions and approves the two bills.
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