What to Know About Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws

Aug, 2021
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If you reside in Louisiana and need to use marijuana for whatever medical reason, it is essential to understand the ins and outs of Louisiana medical marijuana laws. Whether it’s the fine details like what cannabis products you can purchase or where you can buy them, from bigger regulations like possession amounts and public consumption laws, you’ll want to know it all. 

Hey, don’t feel overwhelmed just yet! Elevate Holistics is here to break down these Louisiana medical marijuana laws as simply as possible. This way, you know exactly what you can and cannot do in the Pelican State. Let’s get started.


The History of Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws

To understand Louisiana weed laws, we need to briefly dive into the long (and somewhat complicated) history of medical marijuana in the state. 

The Beginning

The current position of the law on MMj in Louisiana has evolved through significant milestones, starting in 1991 when Act No. 874 legalized medical marijuana in the state. However, this legislation only allowed for the prescription of medical marijuana by doctors. It made no express provision about selling, dispensing, or possessing medical marijuana. This left patients high and dry. (Pun somewhat intended.) 

Then, SB No. 541 modified the requirements of the earlier legislation concerning qualifying conditions. It made it the state’s Department of Health and Hospital (DHH) duty to oversee the Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Board. DHH also had the responsibility of facilitating the licensing of doctors, producers, and pharmacies for medical marijuana. However, this did not do much to give patients legal access to medical cannabis.

Making the Necessary Changes

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 271 in 2016. This legislation provided for a very comprehensive — and much needed — medical cannabis program in Louisiana. SB 271 allowed physicians to recommend cannabis to patients instead of prescription as stated in the earlier ruling of 1991. Along with this, the bill stated that professionals must provide medical marijuana in Louisiana in a processed, non-smokable form. Even more, it also made provision for distribution to medical marijuana patients through about nine pharmacies — otherwise known as dispensaries. 

Later in 2018, Gov. Edwards signed HB 579 and HB 627, which increased qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. This allowed even more people in Louisiana to gain access to MMJ for their medical conditions. 

The regulatory Board for the state’s medical marijuana program for physicians is the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners. Prior to 2018, the Board limited the number of patients doctors could license MMJ cards for — capping this to 100 people. Thankfully, the Board changed this rule, removing the strange patient number limitation. 

In 2020, HB 819, in a very welcome development, also increased the number of qualifying conditions and allowed physicians to recommend cannabis for any debilitating condition they are qualified to treat if they believe the patient will benefit from it. Therefore, this provision widely expanded the scope of patients entitled to medical marijuana in Louisiana.

Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws Today… Finally

It was June 2021 when Gov. Edwards signed the notable House Bill 391, repealing the state’s ban on dried, smokable cannabis for medical marijuana patients. This law will take effect on January 1, 2022, and it will allow registered medical marijuana patients to — finally — obtain raw cannabis for inhalation. 

However, you must keep in mind that, until then, patients can only consume cannabis in non-smokable forms. (Sorry, but patience is a virtue!) As expected, the over 4,000 registered LA MMJ cardholders are more than welcoming of these developments to the Louisiana medical marijuana laws of the state.

LA MMJ and Possession Laws

Okay, now that you know how Louisiana's gotten to where it is today in terms of MMJ, let’s talk nitty-gritty details — starting with possession laws. 

According to the Louisiana weed laws, patients and caregivers can possess up to a one-month supply of processed and non-smokable cannabis in a form recommended by their physician. However, when House Bill 391 goes into effect next year, patients will be able to purchase up to two and a half ounces of medical cannabis flower within every 14 days from the licensed providers.

On June 14, 2021, Governor Edwards also signed HB 652 into law and commencing from August 1, 2021, the state will drastically reduce the penalty for possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis to a fine of not more than $100. For offenders who cannot pay this sum, the court also has the discretion to impose alternatives such as allowing installment payments or ordering them to community service. The provision is opposed to the current stiff penalty, which imposes up to 15 days jail term for a first offender who possesses up to 14 grams. This penalty increases with subsequent convictions such that a subsequent simple possession offense could be up to eight years of jail term. Nonetheless, ‘til the new law goes into effect next year, this remains the position in the Bayou State.

Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws

What Kind of Cannabis Products are Allowed in Louisiana?

Currently, the nine state-approved medical marijuana pharmacies in Louisiana do not sell marijuana in smokable forms. The only forms allowed are as follows:

  • Inhalers
  • Edible gummies
  • Capsules
  • Metered-dose inhalers
  • Oils
  • Pills
  • Sprays
  • Suppositories
  • Tinctures
  • Topical oils/lotion
  • Transdermal patches
  • Other forms for topical application

According to the proposer of House Bill 391, Tanner Magee, having marijuana in a smokeable form would be a way to give patients access to a more affordable medical marijuana option. In proposing the legislation, Magee stated that “We constantly heard stories of people who had the end of cancer, terminal cancer going through a lot of pain, or they have some sort of condition, and they have to try and pay. It’s not covered by insurance usually, so they have to pay exorbitant prices.”

In giving an assenting nod to this legislation, the owner of H & W Drug Store Dispensary, one of the state’s licensed store dispensaries, Ruston Henry, stated in an interview that one of the impediments for some patients to access medical marijuana is price. He noted that raw flower is easier to process, making it cheaper, which means more people can access it. According to Magee, the doctors would be the ones to decide whether smokable cannabis is suitable for the patient. According to Dr. Julie Johnson of Louisiana Medical Marijuana Doctors, LLC, there is currently a demand for smokable marijuana by patients in the state. She also states, “Some patients don’t like to smoke, some patients don’t like the vape pen, they prefer an edible, or they prefer a tincture, but on the other hand, there are many patients that do prefer the smokable form.”

At-Home Cultivation and Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws

There are only two state-licensed cultivators of marijuana in Louisiana: Southern University and Louisiana State University. Cultivation by patients is simply not allowed. Distribution or cultivation of marijuana is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 plus a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum period of 30 years imprisonment. Subsequent convictions attract between 10-60 years imprisonment plus a maximum fine of $100,000. Skip the jail time and don’t try growing your own weed in Louisiana — plain and simple. 

The Rest of the Rules and Regulations to Be Aware Of

In Louisiana, patients are not allowed to consume medical marijuana in public. Also, Louisiana laws do not have reciprocity provisions, so you need to be a resident of Louisiana to receive a recommendation and obtain medical cannabis.

One impressive thing about Louisiana medical marijuana laws is that each batch of cannabis produced in the state has to be tested by an approved lab. These approved labs test samples from each collection for active ingredients such as THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA. The labs also test the samples for:

  • Potency
  • Heavy metals,
  • Microbiological contaminants
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides 
  • Residual solvents

This means that MMJ patients get access to high-quality, pure, and safe medical marijuana. These products must also contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose. You can take that as you may. 

Also, even though HB 819 allows physicians to recommend cannabis for any debilitating condition, some express qualifying conditions still exist. They include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain associated with sickle cell disease or fibromyalgia
  • Concussion
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Hospice or palliative care
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Intractable pain
  • Lewy-body dementia
  • Motor-Neuron disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Seizure disorders
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Spastic quadriplegia
  • Spasticity
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Traumatic brain injury 

Elevate Holistics is Coming to Louisiana Soon

Now that you know all the necessary details about Louisiana medical marijuana laws, we have excellent news for you. If you are a resident of Louisiana looking to start your medical marijuana journey, Elevate Holistics is coming to LA in just a few months. Sometime this fall, you’ll be able to sit back and let us help you get your Louisiana medical marijuana card completely stress-free. 

Until we unveil our new Louisiana services, head on over to friends at Heally, instead. Heally offers similar online MMJ services to Elevate Holistics, helping you get your medical card in just a few simple steps — all from the comfort of your home. Just click here to get started! 

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for when Elevate expands to Louisiana and more. Sign up with our emails down below to get all the updates, offers, and exclusive discounts you need.