SADOW: Landry Must Stop Harmful Ganja Legislation

The Louisiana Legislature seems on the way to compounding a mistake it began making years ago, with perhaps only Republican Gov. Jeff Landry able at this point to prevent that.

From the start in 2015, medical use of marijuana in Louisiana began with dubious premises and has gotten worse since. Since then, almost every control over it has disappeared, step by step by step, so now basically any doctor or nurse practitioner can “recommend” it in any form for any ailment in quantities and often enough to keep one high or to distribute some, whether exchanged for something of value, to others. About the only bottleneck is the limit of dispensaries to ten (currently nine in operation, although since 2022 they have been able to open “satellite” locations that make for 15 physical locations), but they can deliver as well.

So, it’s practically legalized such is the ease of obtaining it. But there’s another legal avenue for addicts added in the past couple of years – hemp products, courtesy of an ill-constructed law that allowed for excessive concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol that have become so egregiously obvious that the Legislature actually may rein in these products in permitting much lower concentrations.

In this environment, why not go all the way and legalize recreational marijuana? Some legislators have been advocating this for years, with the latest and most notorious from long-time legalization advocate Democrat state Rep. Candace Newell’s HB 978 which would allow selling by up to 10 manufacturers and 40 retailers of recreational marijuana to anyone 21 or older a lid a day. It awaits House action later this week.

The laws of the state wouldn’t change currently making recreational use illegal, but bills still continue to push towards decriminalization. Democrat state Rep. Delisha Boyd’s HB 165 would decrease further penalties on possession of drug paraphernalia, for example. It awaits only Senate approval to head to Landry’s desk.

All of this activity operates in the context of the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration recent rulemaking that proposes to downgrade marijuana from the most dangerous Schedule I to III, further signaling that the federal government won’t stand in the way at the state level of legalization and collection of tax revenues from it, sustaining the blind eye the federal government has turned over the past decade towards the 24 states with some form of legalization and the other 14, like Louisiana, that have legalized it for medical purposes.

But the problem with all of this is that the overwhelming majority of medical research demonstrates that marijuana use has harmful health effects and conveys close to zero health benefits, even when used with medical goals in mind. A meta-analysis conducted by the World Health Organization documented scant evidence of marijuana’s medicinal benefits along with reams of research on its harms, from cognitive impairment and psychosis to car accidents.

The medical literature notes that ganja use is more addictive than many substances and more than twice that of booze; that it remains in users’ systems for extended periods and as it only slowly clears out of the brain’s white matter induces adaptation and negatively so; long-term use elevates significantly risk of anxiety, depression, impaired memory, cycles of severe vomiting, schizophrenia and other psychoses at rates actually higher than other drugs considered more dangerous; and among pregnant women increases preterm deliveries, admissions of newborns into neonatal intensive care units, lower birth weights and smaller head circumferences, with these children having reduced white and gray matter and who show an increased incidence of aggressive behavior, cognitive dysfunction, and symptoms of attention deficit and obsessive-compulsive disorders.


And of all the vast and overblown claims of using weed medically, the randomized controlled trial literature finds only a single instance where it has a positive impact: ameliorating neuropathic pain from damage to nerve endings like in diabetes or with poor blood supply. For other types of pain, and for all other conditions, there is no strong evidence from high-quality randomized trials to support its use.

Given all this, Louisiana not only should rebuff any attempts to decriminalize spliffs, but also should pull back severely if not entirely on their medical use. Yet bills this year that are close to the finish line would extend the sunset date of the medical marijuana experiment another five years, privatize cultivation and makes tax proceeds thereof available for more general use, and make it easier for satellite dispensaries to justify operation.

It is, of course, the money that makes too many legislators disregard science on this issue. Louisiana from the latest annual data only pulled in about $1 million in taxes reaped on medical marijuana, although the backdoor hemp channel brought in four times that. But legalization one source predicts would gather a whopping 116 times medicinal sales collections.

The good news is the hemp legislation looks on course to reach Landry, which he needs to sign. The bad news is the current trajectory of other legislation in this policy area suggests that any of it that reaches Landry won’t improve matters. Health and safety of Louisianans dictates that he should veto any such bills.



Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article

Trending on The Hayride