September 20, 2018, Louisiana
The state of Louisiana legalized medical marijuana in 2015. However, the rollout of MMJ law in the state has been impeded by several legislative amendments, revisions and typical administrative red tape. Finally, there are strong chances that medical marijuana will be on dispensary shelves from November this year.
It is important to note that the state only has 31 physicians who are licensed to write medical cannabis prescriptions. Adding insult to injury, the state MMJ laws also put a patient-limit cap on these doctors. This provision particularly has tapered the reach of the program. Fortunately, the state’s Board of Medical Examiners has acknowledged this shortcoming of the law and voted to lift the cap of patient-limit.
Numbers have played an underlying role in this decision
In the earlier version of the law, a licensed physician could only make MMJ prescriptions to a maximum of 100 patients. This means Louisiana’s MMJ program was only able to serve 3,100 patients in total. On the other hand, the state officials are expecting to enroll around 100,000 patients after the opening of MMJ dispensaries in November this year. A huge gap between these two figures is blatantly visible.
On one hand, it would have made legal MMJ inaccessible to all those patients failing to get the prescription from a licensed physician. On the other hand, the newly opened MMJ dispensaries would have failed to achieve their sales target. The need to lift the cap of patient-limit also became necessary because not many physicians are enrolling in the MMJ program. In addition, the Board added more medical conditions to the qualifying list in July. This means the program will now cater to more patients.
All things considered, removing the patient-limit cap is a really crucial step to uphold the viability of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. Besides taking care of this fundamental shortcoming, the Board also voted, amid a close margin of 5-4, to eliminate the requirement of follow-up from patients and their physicians to renew their prescription. Earlier, patients had to see their MMJ physicians after 90-days of getting the first prescription in order to get it renewed.
The disinterest of local doctors is concerning
Experts have noted that the Board of Medical Examiner also has to work on bringing more physicians to the program. For now, it looks like the medical cannabis program of Louisiana has failed to make an impression on local doctors. According to the Board’s own account, only 48 doctors have applied to become part of the program so far. Due to lack of participation from the physicians, a big rural part of the state has no access to MMJ recommendation.
To address this issue, a medical marijuana company GB Sciences has taken an initiative. The company is working out an education and outreach program among the local physicians to increase their participation in the state’s medical marijuana program. There is a hope that with MMJ dispensaries going operational in the next two months, more physicians will enroll in the program.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]