If you currently live in Louisiana or have a trip scheduled and use medical marijuana, it's important for you to know the current laws in place in Louisiana. Louisiana medical marijuana laws are still relatively new, so it can be hard to find the most up-to-date information to go on.

Fortunately, we've pulled together all you need to know about marijuana legalization in Louisiana so you can be informed and not taken by surprise.

Did Louisiana Pass a Medical Marijuana Law?

As of 2019, medical marijuana is legal in Louisiana. For many years, citizens were probably wondering regularly, “Is medical marijuana legal in Louisiana?” This is because the law making it legal actually passed back in 2014. However, it was not enacted until 2019, making medical marijuana inaccessible for citizens up until that point.

It's important to know that currently, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is in charge of all regulations for medical marijuana, including the production and manufacturing of all forms. Essentially, this means that all growth of medical marijuana is handled by the government of Louisiana.

What About Recreational Marijuana in Louisiana?

While medical marijuana is legal in Louisiana, recreational use of marijuana is currently not legal in the state. While this may be discouraging news for some people, there is some positive news.

While the use of marijuana recreationally is still illegal in Louisiana, in 2021, the state legislature voted to decriminalize the possession of recreational marijuana. This means that if a person is found with 14 grams of marijuana, or less, then they will face a fine of up to $300 versus being sentenced to jail time. While this isn't full legalization, it has hopefully begun the process of helping the public view marijuana in a different way.

Decriminalization is the first step toward the recreational use of marijuana being legalized in Louisiana. In fact, many politicians and citizens alike are still pushing for marijuana to be legalized in Louisiana in the coming years. In the meantime, many people are working to spread awareness of the benefits of marijuana legalization.

What Are the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Laws?

So, while you can't purchase or use recreational marijuana, those people who qualify for a medical card in Louisiana are able to receive a prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana. In order to understand the qualifications and limitations put into place by the Louisiana government, you need to review Louisiana law RS 40:1046.

Fortunately, we've read the law for you and can sum up what you need to know. In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card in Louisiana, a person must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition by a doctor licensed to practice in the state. Some of the most common qualifying conditions include:

·   Cancer

·   HIV or AIDS

·   Cachexia

·   Seizure disorder

·   Epilepsy

·   Crohn's disease

·   Muscular dystrophy

·   Multiple sclerosis

·   Glaucoma

·   Parkinson's disease

·   Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

·   Specific symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder

Once a person qualifies for a medical marijuana card, they are placed in a state-wide database, where they can go to a qualifying Louisiana cannabis dispensary and receive their prescribed dosage. It's important to understand that, legally, each cardholder may only be given up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every 14 days. This helps ensure cardholders are not abusing the system or sharing their prescribed medication.

Some other essential pieces of the Louisiana marijuana laws include:

·   Marijuana prescribed and handed out must have the lowest possible therapeutic amounts of THC for the diagnosed ailment

·   Employers and work-provided insurance are not required to cover or pay for the prescription of medical marijuana

Understanding the specifics of the marijuana laws in Louisiana will help ensure you aren't surprised if you come across any terms or limitations regarding medical marijuana cards and usage.

Cultivation License in Louisiana

With medical marijuana legal in Louisiana, you may be wondering how you can begin cultivating your own crops. However, this is a more complicated topic than you may realize. As previously mentioned, the LDAF currently handles all cultivation of medical marijuana. This means that there is no medical growth permitted outside of two agencies in the state:

·   Louisiana State University Agriculture Center

·   Southern University Agriculture Center

No other individual or business is allowed to grow medical marijuana for personal use or distribution. However, hemp cultivation is an entirely different subject.

The LDAF also handles the licensing and regulation of hemp growth in Louisiana. Currently, there are approximately 160 active hemp-growing licenses in the state. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a licensed hemp cultivator, there's a set of steps you must follow.

How to Get a Hemp Growing License in Louisiana

In order to become licensed to grow hemp in Louisiana, one must follow the application process that has been put in place by the state. To start off the application process, there is an application packet that must be reviewed, filled out, and completed. New applications for hemp cultivating are accepted at any time by the LDAF, while renewal applications must be turned in by November 30th annually.

It's also important to note that you must pay a $500 license fee if and when you are notified of your application's approval. Until this fee is paid, you are unable to begin cultivating hemp in the state. All applications are processed online through a secure form that the applicant must fill out completely in order to be considered.

Part of the required application involves providing a clear map showing the location of the proposed hemp farm. The map must be in color and has to provide the location of any growing, storage, handling, or processes locations. The physical address and GPS coordinates of the center of the field are also required in the application.

Once the application is turned in, the applicant must pass a background check. Specifically, the LDAF requires hemp cultivators to have no felonies on their record for the last ten years, as well as no drug-related offenses for the last two years. If the applicant meets these criteria, then their application can move forward.

Another key point to understand is that the hemp cultivation application must be done in an individual's name, not under a business entity. Even if the applicant plans to grow or sell their hemp under the name of a business, the license has to be under an individual's name.

If the applicant passes all the steps of the application process, they can be added to the list of hemp cultivators in Louisiana. All hemp cultivators must abide by the rules and regulations set in place by the LDAF.

Louisiana Cannabis Dispensary Information

If you or someone you know qualifies for a medical marijuana card in Louisiana, you're likely wondering how you can obtain the prescribed amount of cannabis. As of right now, Louisiana only has nine dispensaries in the state. While this may be discouraging at first glance, there are some dispensaries that offer home delivery to medical cardholders.

The current dispensaries in Louisiana are:

·   The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy in Alexandria

·   Capitol Wellness Solutions in Baton Rouge

·   Green Leaf Dispensary in Houma

·   The Apothecary Shoppe in Lafayette

·   Medicis Pharmacy in Lake Charles

·   Willow Pharmacy in Madisonville

·   H&W Drug Store in New Orleans

·   Hope Pharmacy in Shreveport

·   Delta Medmar in West Monroe

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Louisiana are able to provide you will a wide array of marijuana products to best meet your needs and preferences in symptom alleviation. When visiting one of the above dispensaries, you'll find a variety of smokeable marijuana flowers, RSO distillate syringes, metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), edibles, and tinctures.

As soon as you have your medical marijuana card and prescription from your doctor, you are able to visit a dispensary and find the right product for you. Each dispensary employs people who will help you choose the right form of cannabis and will follow up with you to make sure your product of choice is meeting your needs!

Takeaway

When asking the question, “is marijuana legal in Louisiana,” the answer is a little more complicated than many people prefer. Medical marijuana is fully legal in Louisiana as long as the person has a medical card that was recommended and prescribed by a licensed Louisiana doctor. However, recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state.

While many people may be discouraged by the state of marijuana laws in Louisiana, it's important to realize how much progress has been made over the last few years. Recognizing that smaller amounts of marijuana possession are now decriminalized in Louisiana can be seen as a mark for the win column for those in favor of legalization.

In 2021, licensing legislation was proposed that would allow for personal cultivation and individuals to open up cannabis businesses. Of course, this would only take effect if recreational marijuana became legal in Louisiana. However, many people who are for legalization have seen this recent move as a sign of legalization to come.

Regardless of what future cannabis laws look like in Louisiana, it's essential to be as up-to-date as possible on the laws and regulations in place so you can make sure you are abiding by them. Following the rules in place now will send the right messages to those in charge of loosening the rules in the future.

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