BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Supporters of a bill that would expand Louisiana's medical marijuana law launched a new ad campaign Tuesday.
The group called Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana debuted what it is calling hard-hitting billboards in Baton Rouge and Shreveport. The billboards featured local families saying "Medical marijuana would help my child. Will our legislatures?"
Some parents of children with seizures and other diseases not helped by regular medicines held signs in shades of green that called for a sensible policy and praised the billboards. Most seem prepared to move to Colorado and its vastly different laws if they must.
"We felt the need to stay here fight, not only for Connor, but for all the others citizens here that are suffering from a condition that just can't be treated appropriately and they don't have hope," said Katie Corkern.
Katie Corkern's son, Connor, suffers from severe epilepsy and has hundreds of seizures daily. He has run out of options in Louisiana unless legislators amend the current law.
SB 271, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, would increases the number of diseases that can be legally treated by medical marijuana in Louisiana, including those that cause seizures. The bill advanced out of a House committee on May 3.
Importantly, the bill allows physicians to recommend the drug rather than prescribe it. Mills told lawmakers that because federal law still lists no medical use for marijuana, prescribing the Schedule I drug could put a doctor's license at risk.
Under the bill, LSU and Southern would have the right of first refusal to grow the state-sanctioned marijuana, and only 10 pharmacies could distribute it statewide. The universities would have to decide by September 1.
There were some amendments to the bill. One would eliminate Glaucoma as an accepted, treatable disease, while another said that if the FDA approves another drug for treatment, it would be given priority over marijuana by physicians.
The bill is scheduled for debate on the House floor Wednesday. Because of the amendments, it would then have to head back to the Senate for approval if the House passes the measure.