If you’re wondering how to get medical marijuana in Louisiana, please note that it is a tough process. On the one hand, the state has one of the simplest, most straightforward recommendation processes. However, relatively few doctors are willing to go through the certification process.
Depending on who exactly you talk to, weed has actually been ‘legal’ at the medicinal level in Louisiana for decades. Whether it was legal through a quirk in state law or not, no MMJ was sold in the state legally until 2019. However, on June 30, 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed SB 143. It set the framework for a medical marijuana program in Louisiana.
SB 143 permitted Louisiana physicians to prescribe MMJ following DEA and FDA guidelines. However, as these guidelines didn’t exist, there was no way to implement a program!
Everything changed in 2016 when Governor John Bel Edwards signed SB 271 into law. It made provisions for a comprehensive medical marijuana program in the state. Despite further additions to the law, MMJ patients in Louisiana had to wait. The first pharmacy finally opened on August 6, 2019.
In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about cannabis in the state. This includes how it works and what you have to do to get approved.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Louisiana
You can only get an MMJ card with a recommendation from a physician. However, finding a medical marijuana doctor in Louisiana is not necessarily an easy task. There are conflicting reports as to how many physicians in the state are qualified to issue marijuana prescriptions. Before any Louisiana doctor can issue a recommendation for medical cannabis, he or she must complete an online program. This ensures they obtain their ‘Therapeutic Marijuana Registration’ permit.
This document gives them access to the Board of Pharmacy’s Medical Cannabis Registry. Once they have access, doctors can add and remove patients as they see fit. A patient entered into the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Registry may buy, possess, and use various forms of therapeutic cannabis.
Step 1: Find a Doctor
A growing number of patients are choosing to visit a medical clinic instead of a physician. These facilities specialize in marijuana treatment and provide recommendations to those in genuine need. But even if you use a clinic, keep your regular physician in the loop.
Unlike other states, there is no state-specific MMJ program. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) oversees grower permits. However, there is no online application process as there is with other programs. The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners distributes physician permits. Only these individuals can recommend MMJ.
Therefore, the entire process involves you finding a cannabis-friendly doctor or clinic. Make sure you bring your medical records, proof of residency, and a government-issued I.D. to the consultation. If the doctor decides you are eligible, they will send an MMJ recommendation to the pharmacy of your choice.
Step 2: Visit a Licensed Pharmacy
Louisiana doesn’t provide MMJ cards like other states. Instead, the recommending physician adds your name to the Board of Pharmacy’s therapeutic marijuana registry as a qualified patient. You then receive a recommendation that you take to an MMJ pharmacy. At present, there are nine locations that we outline below.
By now, you may have noticed that we are not using the term ‘dispensary.’ This is quite deliberate, as, in Louisiana, marijuana is distributed through ‘pharmacies.’ They must operate similarly to ‘traditional’ pharmacies that hand out prescriptions. One upside is that Louisiana’s pharmacy employees display a higher level of knowledge than dispensary workers in other states.
What Are the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Costs?
There are significant concerns over the cost of procuring MMJ in Louisiana. In general, a physician’s recommendation will cost around $200+. A bottle of tincture can cost $100+, and some patients spend $400+ a month! Certain companies now help patients register for a total of $199.
Also, there is minimal information on any renewal process. The assumption is that patients renew every year. However, with no defined MMJ ‘authority,’ it is unclear. In September 2018, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy removed a restriction that would have required patients recertifying every 90 days. It also removed a stipulation that would only have allowed a doctor to certify a maximum of 100 patients.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Louisiana?
Patients with the following qualifying conditions are potentially eligible:
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Seizures / Epilepsy
- Spasticity (including severe muscle spasms)
- Crohn’s disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Specific symptoms of autism spectrum disorder
- Spastic quadriplegia
Other Information on the Louisiana Medical Marijuana License Process
Here is some more useful information relevant to the MMJ program in Louisiana:
What Kind of Marijuana Can I Purchase?
Unfortunately, MMJ patients face a restricted choice. Cannabis has only been on sale in the state for less than a year. At the moment, you can forget about buying vaping or smokable products. However, you can get almost everything else, including:
- Therapeutic oils and tinctures
- Topicals (creams, lotions, etc.)
- Gummies (gelatin-based)
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?
In general, a recommending physician sends the order and marijuana type to the closest pharmacy. Patients receive a notification when their purchase is ready. At the time of writing, you are permitted up to a 30-day supply. Your herb is exempted from sales tax but is not covered by health insurance. Also, recommended doses and the amount you buy is recorded and monitored in the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System.
Where Can I Purchase Marijuana in Louisiana?
MMJ in Louisiana is something of a closed shop. There are nine pharmacies in total. They can only sell weed procured from Southern University or Louisiana State University. Here is the list of pharmacies:
- Willow Pharmacy: Madisonville
- Hope Pharmacy; Shreveport
- H&W Drug Store: New Orleans
- Medicis: Lake Charles
- Green Leaf Dispensary: Houma
- Capitol Wellness Solutions: Baton Rouge
- Delta Medmar: West Monroe
- The Apothecary Shoppe: Lafayette
- The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy: Alexandria
There is only one pharmacy in each designated region of a large state. Therefore, you may face a lengthy drive.
Can I Grow Cannabis at Home?
No, and there are no plans to allow this process in the near future.
Can I Get a Caregiver?
At present, state law only allows caregivers to purchase cannabis on behalf of a minor diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Also, the caregiver must be the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
Where Can I Use Medical Marijuana?
In Louisiana, it is illegal to use it in a public place. You can only consume cannabis at a private residence.
Does Louisiana Allow MMJ Patients from Other States to Buy Cannabis?
No. The state doesn’t have a reciprocity program in place. Only Louisiana residents with an MMJ card may buy and use cannabis.
If you found this guide useful, please share it with someone looking for MMJ in Louisiana.