BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Medical marijuana could help lead Louisiana out of a crippling budget deficit, according to a new study by pro-marijuana groups.
A new study by the Louisiana Cannabis Association and the Marijuana Policy Group estimates a windfall of $204 million to $334 million if state relaxes its medical marijuana laws.
"Medical marijuana will dramatically improve the lives of many in Louisiana who suffer from debilitating illnesses," says Jesse McCormick, the Louisiana Cannabis Association spokesman, in a statement. "At a time in our state when we are raising taxes while cutting health care and higher education, creating a viable medical marijuana market is an easy decision."
The Baton Rouge Business Report notes the current medical marijuana laws would cover between 3,900 and 4,700 people. However, if chronic pain were added to the list of eligible conditions, that number would grow to between 64,000 and 105,000 eligible patients.
The study also says the current market size of the medical marijuana industry is estimated to fall somewhere within the $12.3 million to $14.8 million range.
The 11-page study, highlighted by the Business Report, says researchers have studied systems used to regulate the marijuana industry in places like Oregon and Colorado.
"Oregon and Colorado have a history and culture of accepting medical marijuana treatment," the report reads. "These states can be used to represent capture rates in established markets with regulated dispensary models. This study methodology assumes that eligible patients in Louisiana will elect to use medical marijuana for treatment of their condition within the range of frequencies exhibited by Oregon and Colorado patients."
The study comes on the heels of the LSU Ag Center's announcement saying the program has not made a final decision on whether or not it will grow medical marijuana.