Louisiana could greatly expand who can be treated with medical marijuana

Louisiana

The bill would significantly expand doctors’ ability to prescribe medical cannabis.

BATON ROUGE, La. (WWL-TV) — State lawmakers are poised to greatly expand Louisiana’s medical marijuana to make more conditions eligible for the treatment. 

The proposal from Republican Rep. Larry Bagley would authorize therapeutic cannabis for any condition that a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat.”

The Senate health committee backed the expansion measure in a 5-1 vote Wednesday, sending it to the full Senate for debate. The House already has voted 77-15 for the bill.

Louisiana already allows cannabis to treat diseases and disorders such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

In August 2019, Louisiana became the first Deep South state — and one of more than 30 states nationwide — to dispense medical marijuana, four years after state lawmakers agreed to give patients access. 

Now, the state is grappling with the growing pains of a new medical market and a patient group that can’t use health insurance to cover costs. Doctors and clinics say some patients are finding the cost for therapeutic cannabis too high for treatment, pricing them out of a medication they waited years to obtain.

Marijuana can be available in oils, pills, liquids, topical applications and an inhaler, such as that used by asthma patients — but not in a smokeable form.

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