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Louisiana: House Passes Medical Marijuana Legislation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 11, passed medical marijuana legislation to allow patients access to the drug which was first legalized for medical use in the late 1970s.

The bill passed with a wider margin than expected, 61-32, and now heads back to the Senate, where the bill is expected to pass with minor change.

"The wait was excruciating, but so worth it," said medical marijuana advocate Katie Corkern, who wants to treat her son Connor's epilepsy with the drug. "I woke up this morning and was thinking, it's not going to pass because I've been doing so much research. There were people who I thought were definitely going to vote for it who changed their minds."

The legislation seeks to provide an oil derived from the marijuana plant with extremely low levels of the chemicals that make it a psychotropic drug. Doctors would be able to "recommend" the drug rather than prescribe it, so that they can avoid risking their DEA license allowing them to prescribe narcotics.

The passage of the new legislation followed much debate. Many expressed concern that medical marijuana is a path to full legalization, which the bill's author, Fred Mills, has denied. Mills, a Republican, has said the bill is tightly written to prevent recreational use.

Louisiana: House Medical Marijuana Bill Dies, Senate To Debate Issue Next

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to expand Louisiana's medical marijuana laws died in the House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, April, 27.

The author of the bill, State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, agrees to defer his bill and said he was willing to work with the author of another medical marijuana bill that has already passed the Senate. He delayed shelving the bill, however, until House members heard hours of testimony from medical marijuana advocates and patients who pleaded with legislators for access to the drug.

The same committee is expected to debate next week on Sen. Fred Mills' Senate Bill 271, which also would expand conditions approved for medical marijuana treatment. Mills' bill is not as expansive as James', but it would include new conditions and would allow medical marijuana to be grown,dispensed, and "recommended by doctors".

James withdrew his bill before any opposition could speak. It is likely the Louisiana Sheriff's Association would have opposed the measure on grounds that it would have amounted to the legalization of marijuana. The bill contained broad language that would have made conditions such as "debilitating pain" eligible for medical marijuana treatment, a move that some legislators said they thought could be used to justify a huge variety of ailments.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana; Bill Headed To House


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Louisiana Senate on Monday approved legislation which would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. Senate Bill 143, which spells out how the state's medical marijuana industry would work, was approved on a 22-13 vote.

If the bill is approved by the Louisiana House, patients with a doctor's authorization could obtain cannabis in non-smokable form at one of 10 dispensaries across the state, reports Emily Lane at the Times-Picayune. The bill passed on Monday approves one growing site.

SB 143, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills (R-New Iberia), would restrict the use of "CBD only" medicinal cannabis in non-smokable forms to patients with glaucoma, spastric quadriplegia and for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

The Louisiana Legislature legalized medical marijuana in 1978 and then again in 1991, but neither bill allowed for legal dispensing of the herb; the Department of Health and Hospitals was supposed to write rules for dispensing it nearly a quarter century ago, but never did.

Three state agencies would have rule-making authority under Mills' bill: the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners would set rules about doctors' authorizations; the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy would set rules about dispensaries; and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture would set rules for the single grow site.

Louisiana: Residents' Tolerant Views On Marijuana Not Reflected By Harsh State Laws


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Louisiana residents have a much more relaxed and tolerant approach toward marijuana than is reflected by their state's harsh laws, according to a statewide survey conducted by Louisiana State University this winter.

The university asked about three different marijuana polices, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune.

First of all, the survey found that a majority of Louisianans oppose legal marijuana for personal use. Fifty-two percent of state residents still oppose legalizing cannabis for recreational use, but the gap between those who don't want to legalize and those who support it -- at 45 percent -- is shrinking.

In 2013, 56 percent said they opposed legalization, and 42 percent said they supported it, a gap of 14 points. Now, that gap has shrunk to just a seven-point difference.

Young adults ages 18-29 in Louisiana support legal marijuana, with 68 percent supporting and 32 percent opposed.

One state lawmaker has filed legislation to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis on the Louisiana ballot on November 8, 2016. Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) said voters should get to decide whether pot becomes legal.

Secondly, the survey found that most Louisiana residents support medical marijuana. Sixty percent support medicinal pot, but for some reason that number has shrunk since last year, when 79 percent said they supported it.

Louisiana: Voters Could Decide On Marijuana Legalization Next Year


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed putting marijuana legalization on the Presidential election ballot next year for a statewide vote.

Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has filed a bill, HB 117, to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis and its derivatives on the Louisiana ballot November 8, 2016, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune. Voters would be deciding not just the Presidential race, but also Congressional seats that day.

In a Louisiana State University survey last year, 79 percent of Louisianans indicated support for some form of marijuana legalization. If Honore's initiative got on the ballot and passed, people 21 and older would be able to possess and buy cannabis without criminal charges.

"If I can get it to the people, it will pass with flying colors," Honore said.

According to Honore, criminal charges for marijuana have already ruined too many lives in Louisiana. As of June 2013, 1,372 Louisianans were serving prison sentences for simple cannabis possession. The average marijuana sentence in Louisiana is 8.4 years; more than 78 percent of these offenders are African American.

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