Yesterday, SB 143 by Senator Fred Mills (R-Parks), which creates the regulations for distributing medical marijuana passed the Louisiana Senate on a vote of 22-13. The bill now heads to the state House for more debate, but the bill has made more progress this session than in previous ones.
Medical marijuana is already technically legal in Louisiana. Patients can use it and it can be prescribed, in theory. But there has been no legal framework for pharmacies to distribute it.
As The Hayride explained last week, there are major differences between the Mills bill and how medical marijuana is done in other states.
Medical marijuana could be prescribed in any form except for inhalation (ie. smoking). What we’re talking about here are oils, edibles, topicals, etc. Whereas in California marijuana can be prescribed in any form.
There are no “pot cards” in this bill. Medical marijuana can only be prescribed by a physician who can prescribe Schedule I narcotics in Louisiana. The “pot cards” are one reason medical marijuana in California has become de facto pot legalization. You have to get a doctor to prescribe it to treat a medical condition.
This is to avoid what has happened in California. In 2010, a voter initiative that would’ve legalized marijuana for recreational use was defeated by the medical marijuana cartel. The cartel wanted to protect its state-granted monopoly on marijuana production and sale.
The Senate passed further amendments to the bill. One of them sunsets the proposed legislation in 2020. Another amendment mandates that the license for growing medical marijuana would be limited to one geographic location. Finally Mills himself proposed an amendment imposing minimum financial regulations on the companies who would distribute the medical marijuana.
As I said last week, I’m for passing the legislation. There are conditions such as seizures and nausea resulting from chemotherapy and AIDS treatment that medical marijuana can help. There are also enough safeguards to prevent this from being abused for recreational purposes.