Last week lawmakers in Louisiana approved two medical cannabis expansion bills. Still, it remains uncertain whether the new reforms will be enough to guarantee the success of the small, heavily regulated program.
Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the bill allowing medical doctors to choose the option of recommending medical marijuana to patients.
The second bill would prohibit the state from discouraging or penalizing a state charter bank or credit union from providing financial services to a legal cannabis-related business.
In a separate case, state legislators passed a bill allowing physicians who recommended medical marijuana to patients to obtain immunity.
The bill was positively welcomed by industry stakeholders, including Kevin Caldwell, co-president of Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana. Caldwell said the bill would give doctors discretion.
He, however, noted that many doctors are part of health groups that do not advocate for recommending medical marijuana.
He added that he believed the move would have some positive impact on the program, but it doesn’t guarantee an increased number of patients before the end of the year.
Caldwell pointed out the main issue is the business’s lack of market as well as enough patients for the nine dispensaries in Louisiana to keep the program up and running.
So far, Louisiana Sensible Medical Marijuana has recorded a mere 1,500 patients since its inception in August 2019. Caldwell pointed out that the program’s slow going is the consequence of the high cost of the products with only topicals and tinctures available.
The Louisiana Sensible Marijuana program was keen on a bill that would have repealed a ban on flowers. However, the proposal never made it to a committee legislative session due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, neighboring Arkansas, which launched a similar program a few months ago legalizing marijuana flower products now records more than 55,000 consistently pitching MJ products.