Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards signed a medical marijuana bill into law yesterday.
The bill was designed to speed up and expand the current medical marijuana program. Patients have been critical over the slow process of acquiring medical marijuana and the narrow list of qualifying ailments.
The governor expects the bill to help families seeking alternative treatments. “It simply is unacceptable to tell parents of kids especially that if they want to make available to their kids the medicine that is being recommended by their doctors in order to achieve some better quality of life, some reduction in pain or other symptoms, that they have to move,” Edwards said.
Louisiana authorities, including sheriffs and district attorneys were in opposition of the bill, as they feared this was a step toward full legalization. Gov. Edwards tried to assure critics and said the state will make sure that marijuana would not be “a medication that is recommended for every ailment out there.”
Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Bill Will add qualifying Conditions
The bill will add seizures, HIV, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and other ailments to the list of qualifying conditions. More ailments could be added in the future. Additionally, the bill will address the concerns of physicians in the state. Doctors will not “recommend” as opposed to “prescribing” marijuana. Since marijuana is still a banned Schedule I substance, doctors wanted to ensure they were not directly violating federal law.
It is expected to take approximately 18-24 months for the new policy to take full effect and for patients to receive marijuana. The state will be reviewing growers and dispensaries during that time. Southern University and Louisiana State University will have the first opportunity to decide if they would like to become state sanctioned growers.
As the governor signed the bill, Katie Corken and her son Connor looked on. Connor suffers from frequent seizures due to a rare brain disorder. “I’m very excited for the future. And I’m very excited for all the people this medicine can help.” Katie Corken said after the bill was signed.