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WIRE: Louisiana governor signs medical marijuana bill

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards approved a medical marijuana bill on Thursday that brings the state one step closer to creating a workable medical marijuana law.

SB 271 replaces 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.

It also removes glaucoma from the existing list of qualifying medical conditions, which includes spastic quadriplegia and symptoms from chemotherapy, and adds 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.

“Seriously ill Louisianans are grateful to Gov. Edwards and the legislature for their efforts to fix our unworkable medical marijuana law,” said David Brown, president of Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana. “SB 271 brings us closer to providing relief to the suffering of our most vulnerable residents. We hope that they will continue that work by approving SB 180 to ensure that medical marijuana patients and providers are protected from criminal sanctions. Patients shouldn’t be treated like criminals for using the medicine that works best for them.”

SB 180 — which already passed the Senate — would provide legal protections for patients whose doctors recommend medical cannabis. It would need to be amended to add legal protections for pharmacies dispensing medical cannabis, the single cultivator, and their staff. It is currently being considered in the House.

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.

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Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana is an organization dedicated to statewide coalition building, sound policy research, education, and advocacy in support of substantive drug law reform. For more information, visit http://www.SMPLouisiana.org.

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