Louisiana laws make it one of the hardest places to get a medical marijuana card, but it’s not impossible. If you are a medical patient who is currently living in the state, you may qualify for a medical marijuana card in Louisiana. An MMJ card provides access to medical marijuana for a number of conditions to alleviate pain and discomfort. Marijuana laws can be very confusing, especially because they vary from state to state. Follow along with this article to learn how to get a medical marijuana card in Louisiana.
While it’s not impossible to get a medical marijuana card in Louisiana, it is quite difficult. It’s almost as awful as having to sort through all your tax documents to find if you have any possible deductions! But once more, it is possible. There are some things worth noting before you begin this process: unlike most states, there is not an online application available, you will need a doctor’s approval, and there are pharmacies instead of dispensaries to access medical cannabis.
A significant difficulty is the insane process for doctors to obtain their certification that allows them to distribute medical marijuana cards. For this reason, relatively few doctors are willing to go through the certification process. This can create great frustration for those in need of medical marijauna to help treat their medical issues.
History of Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
Depending on your sources, medical marijuana has actually been prescribed in Louisiana for decades. Whether it was legal through a quirk in state law, no MMJ was legally sold in the state until 2019. On June 30, 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed SB 143, which would set up the framework for a medical marijuana program in Louisiana. SB 143 permitted Louisiana physicians to prescribe MMJ following DEA and FDA guidelines. However, these guidelines didn’t exist, so there was no way to implement a program.
Everything changed in 2016 when Governor John Bel Edwards signed SB 271 into law. This made provisions for a comprehensive medical marijuana program to exist in the state and be operational. However, MMJ patients in Louisiana had to wait until pharmacies passed commencement, with the first pharmacy opening on August 6, 2019.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Louisiana
The only way to obtain a medical marijuana card in Louisiana is with a recommendation from a physician. Finding such a physician is a daunting task in Louisiana. Before any Louisiana doctor can issue a recommendation for medical cannabis, he/she must complete an online program. This ensures they obtain their Therapeutic Marijuana Registration permit, allowing them to give patients medical marijuana access.
After obtaining this particular document, it gives that doctor access to the Board of Pharmacy’s Medical Cannabis Registry. Once they have access to this portal , doctors can add and remove patients as they see fit. A patient entered into the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Registry may buy, possess, and consume various forms of therapeutic cannabis for medicinal purposes. So how does one go about getting on that registry?
Step 1: Find a Doctor
A growing number of patients are choosing to visit a medical clinic instead of an individual physician. This is the oft preferred option because these facilities specialize in marijuana treatment and provide recommendations to those in genuine need of help. But even if you use a clinic, keep your regular physician in the loop.
Unlike other states, Louisiana has no state-specific MMJ program. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) oversees the grower permits, but that’s really it. There is no online application process as there are with other state programs, something weed enthusiasts and activists alike are working on. The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners distributes physician permits and again only these individuals can recommend MMJ.
Therefore, the only recommendation we can give involves 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, as they need these documents to prove identity. If the doctor decides you are eligible, they will send an MMJ recommendation to the pharmacy of your choice, and you can go from there!
Step 2: Visit a Licensed Pharmacy
Also unlike other states, Louisiana doesn’t provide physical MMJ cards. 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 specific pharmacy. For now, there are only nine throughout the state.
Notice that we are not using the term “dispensary.” This is quite deliberate, as per Louisiana law, marijuana must be distributed through “pharmacies.” They must operate similarly to traditional pharmacies that fill prescriptions. So don’t be shocked when your medical professional sends you to a pharmacy, as it is legally required in this state.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Marijuana Card in Louisiana?
Patients with the following conditions are potentially eligible to receive a MMJ in Louisana: cancer, HIV/AIDS, cachexia (wasting syndrome), seizures/epilepsy, spasticity (including severe muscle spasms), Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specific symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, and spastic quadriplegia.
What can be Bought with a Medical Marijauna Card?
Unfortunately for MMJ patients in Louisiana, they are faced with restricted choices. At the present time, you can forget about buying vaping or smokable products such as flower, pre-rolls, and vape cartridges. This is because pharmacies are prohibited from possessing flower. But, just because you can’t smoke doesn’t mean you don’t have any options. You can get almost everything else, including therapeutic oils and tinctures, pills, liquids, topicals (creams, lotions, etc.), gelatin-based gummies, suppositories, and sprays.
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?
Once physician approved, you are permitted up to a 30-day supply. It should also be noted that herb is exempt from sales tax, but is not covered by health insurance. Also, the recommended doses and the amount you buy from the pharmacy is recorded and monitored in the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System, something you should be aware of.
Where Can I Purchase Marijuana in Louisiana?
MMJ in Louisiana is something of a closed loop state. There are only nine pharmacies in which you can purchase THC products, and they can only sell cannabis that is procured from Southern University or Louisiana State University. There is only one pharmacy in each designated region of a large state. Therefore, you may face a lengthy drive. Here is a list of the pharmacies available for the selling of medical marijuana to “card” holders:
- 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
Is Growing Cannabis at Home Legal?
No, and unfortunately for patients who are interested in growing, there are no plans to allow this process in the near future either. But it’s never too late to start advocating for the use of home cultivation! So spread this article around if you live in Louisiana and you can start campaigning for home cultivation!
Can I Get a Caregiver?
At the 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. This is much more restricted as we can see from other states’ caregiver laws.
Where Can I Use Medical Marijuana?
In Louisiana, it is illegal to use medical marijuana in a public place. The only place you are allowed to consume cannabis is at a private residence. This is the only way to prevent receiving a ticket or other legal consequence for this type of action.
Does Louisiana Allow MMJ Patients from Other States to Buy Cannabis?
No. The state of Louisiana doesn’t have a reciprocity program in place… yet. Only Louisiana residents with an MMJ “card” may buy and use non-inhaled cannabis products. Once more southern states align with medical marijuana guidelines, this should be less of an issue.
What Does Medical Marijuana Cost in Louisiana?
There are significant concerns over the cost of procuring a medical marijuana card in Louisiana. In general, a physician’s recommendation will cost at least $200. A single bottle of tincture can cost somewhere around a hundred dollars, and there are some patients who spend four hundred dollars a month on medical marijuana. Basically the takeaway is that this is not a cheap product.
There is very little information on any renewal process in Louisiana as of now. 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.
To end on a good note, it’s amazing that medical marijuana has passed in Louisiana. With more science supporting medical marijuana and patients’ need for this medicine, whether it be because of severe joint pain or an opioid addiction, restrictive cannabis laws will continue to ease.
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