NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – For the first time, medical marijuana patients in Louisiana will be able to light up.
The legislature passed and Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law House Bill 391. The bill makes it legal for dispensaries to sell the traditional, smokable, flower form of marijuana.
“This medicine is proven to help a variety of people,” said Ruston Henry, owner and pharmacist at H&W Drug Store. “So more people come into the pharmacy, more people participate in the program, more people are getting help. More people are getting their lives back.”
Henry said he expects many of his patients to switch from the newer forms of marijuana, like vapes, creams, and edibles, to the raw version when it becomes available on January 1.
Medical marijuana in its natural form is cheaper to process compared to the other forms.
“That cost-saving is passed onto the customers,” Henry said. “If you decrease the cost, it’s one less barrier that’s an impediment to the patients. More people should be able to participate in this program.”
Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain said the grow sites are already gearing up for the change.
In Louisiana, there are three grow sites: two are part of the Louisiana State University system, and one is part of the Southern University system.
“I think there’s going to be a shift in consumption patterns,” Strain said. “We will probably have some overall increase in utilization, but it will remain to be seen. We’ll know in about six months.”
There are a total of 28,174 unique patients who have been prescribed medicinal marijuana by their physicians. A total of 280 physicians statewide have prescribed medical marijuana to at least one of their patients.
“It’s emotionally rewarding. The population we serve is a desperate population,” Henry said. “They’ve tried a lot of traditional things, and they’re not getting any results. They’re coming to us and they’re trying a new form of medication, and quite frankly they’re getting results.”
The state’s grow sites have 185 to 200 pounds of product available for distribution across nine sites in major cities in Louisiana beginning in January.
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