LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) — 2022 means new opportunities for medical marijuana in Louisiana. A new law went into effect January 1 adding raw smokeable marijuana to the list of products already available for sale in Louisiana ​with a doctor’s prescription.

The state’s dispensaries have been selling medical marijuana in liquids, topical applications, inhalers, and edible gummies for years now, but raw marijuana flowers were specifically outlawed until now.

“This is definitely a dosage form that is very, very popular in most medical states. You can bet somewhere between 40%-60% will be raw flower sales,” explained Peter Prevot, executive director of the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives.

There are is 1 medical marijuana dispensary in each of the state’s 9 regions

Prevot represents all 9 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, one in each of the state’s regions. He said because raw marijuana involves less processing, it will affect prices. He showed examples in Lafayette where flowered marijuana’s THC per milligram was half or a third as expensive as other alternatives.

“I think another important factor to consider is with these flower products coming out now you can walk in and buy as little as one gram which is priced around $15 to $20. We didn’t have a product in that price range before. Your cheapest products were coming in around $75 before that,” Prevot added.

The influx of new patients also means expanded production with partnered state growers. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said the two facilities LSU and Southern University are currently producing 350 pounds of dried marijuana flowers every week.

“And bear in mind they are in an expansion mode,” Strain said. “Each different variety can have a different level of THC, different levels of CBD and other internal parameters. Whether you’re looking at the cannabinoids or the terpenes or whatever in that, and so we just want to make sure that it is consistent and that it is safe.”

Any doctor can recommend the new treatment for people suffering debilitating medical conditions. Lawmakers have steadily widened the rules for Louisiana’s medical marijuana program since enacting the dispensing framework in 2015.

“There will be a number of bills dealing with a number of issues. We know that’s coming,” Strain stated.

Prevot said, “I think simplifying and pulling best practices from other states is going to be the hallmark of 2022.”