Antrell Williams

Louisiana House Passes MMJ Reforms

Louisiana’s House of Representatives voted 61-32 in favor of SB271, making sweeping reforms to the state’s current medical marijuana program. The proposal works within the confines of the state’s 2015 legislation which provides some individuals access to oils with low THC, but does not permit “raw or crude marijuana” or inhaled forms.

This is the fourth time the state’s legislature has passed medical marijuana legislation – they did so in 1978, 1991 and 2015 – but, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, those laws were written in a way that made them ineffective, relying on doctors to prescribe marijuana, which jeopardized their license with the DEA to prescribe drugs. Instead, the new proposal protects physicians by allowing them to “recommend” medical cannabis to patients with severe and debilitating medical conditions.

The current law covers glaucoma, chemotherapy symptoms and spastic quadriplegia. Glaucoma is removed under the new proposal, but it adds wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, spasticity, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to the list of approved conditions.

Republican Rep. Sherman Mack lobbied for an amendment which would make possessing medical marijuana without a prescription a felony, but his bid failed 32-62 and was panned by his colleagues.

“Haven’t we led to the highest incarceration rate in the world?” Rep. Tanner Magee said, according to a report. “You are only adding to a failed strategy.”

The bill gives Southern University and Louisiana State University the first refusal to produce the drug, which they must do by September. Private companies would be permitted production rights if they refuse.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

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