Gov. Edwards signs medical marijuana expansion bill into law

Gov. Edwards signs medical marijuana expansion bill into law

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The day some families in Louisiana have awaited for a long time has finally arrived.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill Thursday to expand who gets access to medical marijuana. SB 271, which was sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, increases the number of diseases, including those that cause seizures, that can be legally treated by medical marijuana in Louisiana.

It also makes regulatory changes, which could help patients get it quicker. It's been a long time coming for parents who provided emotional testimony over the last few weeks.

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Importantly, SB 271 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 have the right of first refusal to grow the state-sanctioned marijuana, and only 10 pharmacies could distribute it statewide. The universities have to decide by September 1.

There were some amendments added to the bill when it advanced out of the House committee on May 3. 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.

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