Fewer restrictions to medical marijuana could bring in more patients

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Louisiana law kicking in during August could open the door for a lot more people to use medical marijuana. Restrictions on prescribing doctors and ailments have been lifted.

It’s been one year since medical marijuana was legalized in Louisiana and business has been good, but may be about to get even better.

Prices are coming down, and this spring, the Louisiana legislature passed House Bill 819, which allows any doctor to prescribe medical marijuana for a wider variety of ailments.

“Any condition: anxiety, cancer, Parkinson’s, any condition that the patient feels is debilitating to them,” said John Davis, with Wellcana, a company that has a license to sell and market cannabis through LSU.

Previously, any doctor who would prescribe medical marijuana had to be licensed to do so with the state. Now, that restriction has been lifted and some believe medical marijuana sales could rise by 50% in 2020, which could send more dollars to the LSU AgCenter, in partnership with Wellcana, to grow marijuana.

“Obviously, we will get more money, but we get daily phone calls from patients who say it’s working,” said Dr. Ashley Mullen with the AgCenter.

Marijuana can be an addictive substance and pharmacists like Vincent Campo say they’re on the lookout for trouble signs.

“We monitor with the doctors the amount they’re getting and they’re monitored with the prescription monitoring program,” said Campo.

Industry experts say they don’t believe the medical marijuana expansion will lead the way to full legalization.

“I would say we’re not and the reason is because Louisiana is unique because we are involving doctors and patients and licensed pharmacists and patients and we’re asking the patients to talk to their doctors to see if this is appropriate for them,” Davis said.

Though the new law could open the door for increased medical marijuana use, there are still concerns about legality.

Pharmacies like Willow in Madisonville only take cash due to resistance from credit card companies. Also, doctors affiliated with large medical corporations have also been advised not to prescribe a product that may consider being out of the mainstream.

People involved in the medical marijuana industry say under the new law, they expect 400 to 500 Louisiana doctors to start writing prescriptions. Previously, there were only about 100 who were licensed to make recommendations.

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