BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday (62-31) that would make the state the 25th in the nation — and the first in the South — to adopt a workable medical marijuana law. The measure has already been approved by the Senate, but will return for a concurrence vote before being sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has indicated he would sign it.
“We commend House members for approving this sensible and compassionate legislation,” said David Brown, president of Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana. “We hope the Senate will quickly concur. Many patients have been waiting a long time for this, and some can’t wait much longer.”
SB 271 — coupled with SB 180 — would establish a viable medical marijuana program in Louisiana by amending an unworkable medical marijuana law that is already on the books. Specifically, it would replace language in the current law that allows doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, with language that allows them to “recommend” it. SB 180 — which already passed the Senate — would provide legal protections for patients whose doctors recommend medical cannabis.
SB 271 would also remove glaucoma from the existing list of qualifying medical conditions, which also includes spastic quadriplegia and symptoms from chemotherapy, and add cachexia (or wasting syndrome), Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, seizure disorders, severe spasms, and spasticity. Under SB 271, medical marijuana would be produced by a single cultivator and distributed to qualifying patients by up to 10 pharmacies.
“Legal access to medical marijuana could dramatically improve my son’s life and the lives of countless other Louisiana patients,” said Katie Corkern of Amite. She and her son, Connor, who suffers from a seizure disorder, are featured on billboards that were launched Tuesday in Baton Rouge and Shreveport that read, “Medical marijuana would help my child. Will our legislators?” An image of the billboard is available at http://bit.ly/1OjKbLp.
“Our family should not have to relocate to another state in order to access this potentially life-saving medical treatment,” Corkern said. “We are praying that the Senate will concur with the House bill so Gov. Edwards can sign it into law as soon as possible.”
Last month, Pennsylvania became the 24th state in the nation to adopt an effective medical marijuana law (in addition to the District of Columbia). More than half of the U.S. population resides in states that allow patients to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.