Louisiana pharmacies prepare for medical marijuana debut

Pharmacies prepare for Louisiana medical marijuana debut

MADISONVILLE, La. (WVUE) - The first shipments of legal medical marijuana will be available to approved pharmacies in Louisiana Tuesday (Aug. 6), including one in Madisonville, which anticipates being able to distribute recommendations that same morning.

Dozens of people have already placed orders through their doctor, according Darren Martin, the owner of Willow Pharmacy, one of nine pharmacies across the state where Louisiana residents suffering from a number of ailments will soon be able to pick up their medical marijuana orders.

Willow Pharmacy is in what the state has designated as region nine and includes St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena and Washington parishes.

The treatment will be available in liquid form in one-ounce bottles, and will come in three different strengths. The first, a product made only with THC, is expected to sell for $180 an ounce. The next, a highly concentrated CBD variety, will sell for $130 an ounce. Finally, a balanced product with equal parts THC and CBD will sell for $100 an ounce.

More than 120 doctors state-wide have signed on to issue medical marijuana orders, 21 from region nine, including Dr. Chad Domangue of Hammond. Domangue said most of the patients he is writing recommendations for are chronic pain sufferers.

“Marijuana won’t solve everyone’s problems nor will opioids," Domangue said. “It’s like cooking a gumbo, you have to get the right ingredients. The thing I love about marijuana, is the safety profile. It’s a clean and organic plant-based product."

Martin agreed, and said while prices may seem high now -- particularly because patients cannot use insurance to pay for the treatment -- he hopes medical marijuana will become more accessible in the future.

“This is new to Louisiana," Martin said. "What I’ve seen in other states, prices started out high, but those prices will come down.”

For now, medical marijuana pharmacies can only take cash and have ATM machines inside, behind locked doors. Patients cannot just come in and buy the product, but must have a recommendation which will be faxed in by doctors.

When Willow Pharmacy opens Tuesday, Martin said they will be prepared to sell more than 100 legal, medical marijuana recommendations to customers who have already placed orders through their doctors.

H and W Drug Store in New Orleans will not be open until August 12.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.