Louisiana is close to becoming the 24th state, and the first in the southeast, to allow legal access to medical marijuana.
Both chambers of the Louisiana Legislaturehave now approved medical marijuana legislation that seeks to give certain patients who need it access to the drug. The House of Representatives OK’d the measure Thursday (June 4), by a vote of 70-29.
If the bill becomes law, Louisiana will become the 24th state, plus Washington, D.C., where patients have legal access to medical marijuana. The state will also become the first in the Southeast to have a legal medical marijuana dispensary system.
Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters last month thathe would sign he bill, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, if it gets to his desk. The last step before it reaches Jindal’s office is a vote from the Senate, approving amendments tacked on the House side. That body endorsed an earlier version of the bill on May 4, by a vote of 22-13.
While the Legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes 1978, and then again in 1991, there’s no mechanism in current law that allows for the legal dispensing of the drug. The Department of Health and Hospitals was ordered to write rules for dispensing it nearly a quarter century ago, but the rules never adequately implemented the intent of the legislation. Doctors can legally prescribe it, patients can legally use it, but patients can’t access it in the state legally. In short, the system lacks a middleman. The legislation (SB 143) gives authority to three state boards to set rules regulating a tightly constrained system.