Louisiana made history this week. The Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill to create a the first viable medical marijuana program, paving the way for medical marijuana to be available to patients.
This move also paves way for Louisiana to implement a workable medical cannabis program – making it the 25th state in the nation to do so, but more importantly, making it the first state in the south to do so.
This provides tremendous opportunities for medical patients, but it doesn’t necessarily mean good opportunities for entrepreneurs. One marijuana grower would be allowed to operate…and that’s only if two Louisiana universities skip their opportunity to grow medical marijuana. Additionally, the legislation only calls for 10 medical marijuana dispensaries.
Furthermore, it could take months and months, even as much as two years before physicians could recommend medical cannabis to patients, and before pharmacies could provide it to medical patients.
To make matters even tougher, and more ambiguous, some say that the program cannot get started right away. First, lawmakers also must pass a second bill, SB 180, a two-page bill giving patients and people in the marijuana industry immunity from prosecution for licensed marijuana activity. Approval is expected soon.
Let us also be reminded that Louisiana technically legalized medical marijuana decades ago – it just didn’t approve home growing or any way to produce and distribute cannabis – similarly to many states across the US. The new law both clears away legal impediments and expands the number of medical conditions treatable through MMJ.
None the less, this is a remarkable breakthrough, and it will be interesting to see where this goes.