Louisiana regulators agreed this week to lift a cap limiting doctors to just 100 active medical cannabis recommendations, the Associated Press reports.
Fearing a bottleneck of patients as the state moves towards the launch of its medical cannabis industry, Louisiana’s State Board of Medical Examiners voted 8-1 in favor of lifting the cap, which was first established in 2016. The move was supported by patients and industry advocates, who worried that many patients who need medical cannabis might not be able to immediately access the program.
“Many [patients] feel locked out because they either cannot find physicians or the physicians they find already have hit the 100-patient limit,” said Dr. Victor Chou, who runs a medical marijuana clinic in Baton Rouge and reached his patient cap months ago — long before the program’s launch.
Regulators also voted 5-4 to remove a rule that required medical cannabis patients to return to their doctors every 90 days in order to keep their medical marijuana prescription.
Dr. Roderick Clark, the board’s vice president, argued in favor of removing both the patient cap and 90-day follow-up requirement.
“If we’re going to treat this as a drug or medication, then the physician should be responsible in the physician/patient relationship to treat that patient appropriately through his scope of process. We already have rules about that. We have laws about that.” — Dr. Roderick Clark, vice president of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
So far, just 48 doctors have applied to recommend medical cannabis and just 31 of those doctors have been fully approved. Many still worry that — even with the 100-patient cap removed — the low count of doctors willing and able to recommend medical cannabis in Louisiana will still result in bottlenecking issues related to patient access.