Yes. However, only medical (therapeutic) marijuana is legal in Calcasieu Parish. Act 491 of the 2022 Legislature of Louisiana is the most recent statutory change to the medical marijuana program as of March 2023. Pursuant to Act 491 and Act 492, one of the key changes of the Acts is the transfer of regulatory authority over licensed manufacturers from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).
The LDH only issues a nontransferable specialty license for the production of medical marijuana to the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter) and the Southern University Agricultural Center (SU AgCenter), and each licensee may have contractors for the production of marijuana. The license allows the agricultural centers to cultivate, extract, produce, process, and transport therapeutic marijuana.
The contractors’ facilities must be within a building with a complete roof enclosure. Each contractor must limit access to the area where marijuana is cultivated, extracted, processed, produced, or stored. Only authorized personnel shall have access to the cultivation floor.
They shall maintain a written operations plan indicating standard operating procedures for the cultivation of medical marijuana, equipment operations manuals, sanitization procedures, conduct of safety checks, emergency preparedness procedures, and quality control procedures.
Yes. The LSU AgCenter and SU AgCenter are the two licensed medical marijuana manufacturers in the state. The two licensees enter into a contract with a third-party entity to handle the growing, processing, laboratory testing, and transporting of cannabis products. Purity and THC-content levels of the cannabis products are tested, as prescribed by the legislature.
The cannabis manufacturers must meet performance standards, ensuring that cultivation and processing activities are not exposed to odors, fragrances, light pollution, glare, and brightness. The products must have adequate ventilation to prevent mold and noise.
The facilities shall meet building specification codes related to electrical, fire, and plumbing codes. To ensure unauthorized entry, operational alarms, and video surveillance systems must be installed in the limited access areas. The manufacturer must establish secure locking systems and door controls throughout the facility.
After the contractor finishes producing therapeutic marijuana, the LDH shall inspect each of their facilities biannually to verify compliance with the rules and regulations set forth. Cannabis products must be accurately reported in the inventory reporting and are accessible to the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System (LMMTS).
Yes. Licensed pharmacies may dispense therapeutic marijuana up to 71 grams or 2.5 ounces of raw or crude marijuana every 14 days to a qualified patient aged 21 years old and above. Pharmacies cannot sell marijuana to persons under the age of 21 without a recommendation from an authorized clinician that the latter may receive raw or crude forms of marijuana.
Marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or a chemical derivative of THC shall be dispensed in person from a licensed pharmacy in good standing. The pharmacy must review the patient’s information in the prescription monitoring program database and the approved dosage form before dispensing the product.
Approved medical marijuana forms are pills, cannabis extracts and oils, chewables, tinctures, solutions and suspensions, lotion, sprays, patches, and suppositories. A metered-dose inhaler device delivers an exact amount of medication to the lungs that are usually self-administered by the patient through inhalation. It is not barred from being used by patients when permitted by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy (LABP).
The LABP issues up to 10 annual, nontransferable specialty licenses for a pharmacy to dispense therapeutic marijuana. As of March 2023, only nine dispensaries/pharmacies were licensed. The LABP awards one license per region, and one additional license is given to the region with the highest population density. Awarding of such a license is anchored through a competitive process.
The LABP awarded one license to dispense medical marijuana to a pharmacy in the southwest region catering to Calcasieu Parish patients.
Yes. Licensed marijuana pharmacies shall offer home deliveries to qualified patients in each zip code within its region at least once per month. Pharmacies need to check the patient’s information in the database to verify if he is eligible for medical marijuana since medical marijuana cards are not issued.
Medical marijuana cards are not issued to patients in Calcasieu Parish and Louisiana. To obtain medical marijuana, the patient suffering from a debilitating medical condition must secure a recommendation from an authorized clinician. The state requires there is a clinician-patient relationship between the parties. The authorized clinician must be convinced that therapeutic cannabis may be helpful in alleviating the patient’s condition or symptoms.
Authorized clinicians are licensed health professionals authorized to recommend raw or crude marijuana, THC, or a chemical derivative of THC for therapeutic use to patients. They could be:
Any physician licensed to practice medicine in the state by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) and who is in good standing.
Any nurse practitioner licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN) to practice advanced practice registered nursing in the state. They must possess prescriptive authority conferred by the LSBN and who is in good standing.
Any medical psychologist licensed by the LSBME to practice medical psychology in the state who is in good standing.
Persons suffering from any of the following debilitating medical conditions are qualified to receive therapeutic marijuana:
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Severe muscle spasms.
Conditions associated with autism spectrum disorder
Note: Authorized clinicians may not recommend medical marijuana to patients under 18 unless a pediatric subspecialist was consulted.
Traumatic brain injury.
A concussion diagnosed by an authorized clinician
Chronic pain associated with sickle cell disease or fibromyalgia
Any of the following neurodegenerative conditions and diseases:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Lewy body dementia
Motor neuron disease
Spinal muscular atrophy
Any condition for which a patient is receiving hospice care or palliative care.
Any condition that an authorized clinician considers debilitating to an individual patient
Physicians may recommend therapeutic marijuana through telemedicine. It allows the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, and transfer of medical data from physician to patient through electronic communications when the parties are separated by distance.
Louisiana Department of Health
628 N. 4th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
P. O. Box 629 Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0629
Louisiana's Medical Marijuana Program
The LDH shall assess a fee of 7% of the gross sales of therapeutic marijuana paid by the licensed production facility or permitted contractor that sells medical marijuana. Then, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) shall collect the fees and transfer the fund to the state treasury for the Community and Family Support System Fund.
The production license fee costs $100,000 annually. The LDR collected $200,000 from LSU AgCenter and SU AgCenter in 2020 and another $200,000 in 2021.
In 2020, the total expenditures of the medical marijuana program was $808,808.54 reflecting the full operation of the two licensees. With a deficit of -601,190.79 for 2020, the revenue totaled to $207,617.75. This revenue comprised employee permit fees, background checks, and license fees.
Meanwhile, in 2021, the expenditure budget for the program was $752,040.19. The revenues totaled up to $208,919.90 and $523,700 from the State General Fund for a combined total of $732,619.90. Since the total expenses exceeded the revenue in 2021, it led to a deficit of -$19,420.29.
Medical or therapeutic marijuana was first distributed to patients in 2019. In 2018, the FBI Crime Data Explorer reported 266 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, with data pulled from Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. Then, in 2020 and 2021, the number of DUI arrests went down to 208 and 181, respectively.
As for the illegal possession of marijuana, there were 1,158 arrests in 2018 alone. After the first year of selling medical marijuana (2020), arrests for the same offense were reduced to 822. Finally, unlawful possession of marijuana decreased to 787 in 2021.
On the other hand, only three arrests were made for the illegal sale/manufacturing of marijuana in 2018. This figure increased to 55 arrests by 2020. In 2021, the authorities reported a decrease in arrests for the illegal sale/manufacturing of marijuana to 13.