At first, the regulatory agency of the state’s Medical Marijuana Program was the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The passing of Act 491 and Act 492, however, transferred the task to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) effective August 1, 2022.
There are only two licensed medical cannabis cultivators in the state as specified by the Alison Neustrom Act. These are the Southern University Agricultural Center and the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. Louisiana Administrative Code (LAC) 51:XXIX:101-907 allows the LDH to issue the medical cannabis cultivation license renewal only to these two existing licensees. The renewal must be done annually, on or before July 1. Each licensee must choose only one contractor, called the permittee, for the cultivation, processing, transport, and distribution of medical cannabis on its behalf.
According to Act 628, the process for choosing a contractor must be through competitive bidding. Act 491 requires that this be in compliance with the Louisiana Procurement Code. In addition, each contractor has to go through a criminal history background check. Afterward, the contractor must still apply for an annual permit from the LDH, involving a nonrefundable application fee of $10,000.00 and an annual license fee of $100,000.00.
As mandated by Act 491 and LAC 51:XXIX:101-90, each cultivation permittee must be inspected by the LDH twice each fiscal year at the minimum. The permittee must also comply with the following rules:
Every medical cannabis production facility is required to be fully indoors. Its structure must include permanent walls that are connected to the ground and the roof. These must be built from materials that are strong and easy to keep clean.
The structure’s walls must connect to a floor that is built on a sturdy slab and foundation.
The facility must have an area spacious enough to accommodate medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and storage.
The entire facility and its activities must be completely shielded from the view of anyone outside its perimeter.
The facility must not emit any detectable smells, noise, or light pollution.
The facility must provide proper illumination and ventilation to deter the growth of molds and other prevent any type of contamination.
The facility is required to comply with all state and local standards and codes applicable to buildings, fire safety, electrical work, and plumbing.
The facility must use commercial-grade locks and install a security system. This must have alarms and video surveillance that includes a display monitor on-site. The video must record continuously with a date and time stamp. Recordings must be archived for not less than 30 days. Access to the surveillance controls and monitoring must be limited to authorized personnel only.
The facility must install a silent alarm and a panic device. Both must connect directly to law enforcers.
Security personnel must guard the facility from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or longer. When any security personnel is not on the site, off-site electronic security monitoring must be conducted.
All doors leading to restricted areas must be locked at all times. Signs must be posted to indicate that these areas are for authorized personnel only.
Guests can only be accommodated for official business. They must be logged upon arrival and departure and must always be escorted in restricted areas that contain medical cannabis.
The facility is required to use the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System (LMMTS).
The facility is required to tag every cannabis plant and product with a unique identification number.
The facility is required to record in the LMMTS each acquisition, sale, transfer, or disposal of cannabis plants and medical cannabis products.
The facility is required to keep an updated record of all its personnel.
Yes, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Lafayette Parish but only for medical cannabis products according to the 2015 Alison Neustrom Act as well as its subsequent modifications in Act 491, Act 492, and Act 628.
The LDH permits a contractor of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center or the Southern University Agricultural Center to extract, process, and manufacture medical cannabis products in addition to cultivation. These activities are already covered by the fees charged. Permittees must follow all of the LDH standards outlined above.
An LDH-approved laboratory must test every batch of medical cannabis products before these can be sold. An LDH-approved laboratory must test every batch of medical cannabis products before these can be sold. Before the product batch is divided into portions or packed, the permittee must take a random sample and submit this for testing. If the sample passes, the accredited laboratory issues a certificate of analysis that must be sent to the LDH. If the sample fails, the permittee is allowed to do remediation on the batch and have another sample retested only once. If the sample still fails, the permittee is required to destroy the entire batch.
LAC 7:XLIX:2903 stipulates that the medical cannabis regulatory department, which is now the LDH, must first approve any medical cannabis packaging. The packages must be light-resistant, tamper-proof, and child-proof. If the contents are meant for several uses, the package must be resealable. Such resealable packages must continue to be child-proof throughout use. It is prohibited for medical cannabis packages to be made appealing to minors. They must not look similar to the containers and labels of baked products, candies, snacks, and beverages. There must be no images on the package that may mislead people to believe that the product was made or is endorsed by the municipality, parish, or state.
Yes, cannabis retail is legal in Lafayette Parish, but this is limited to the sale of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. To legally sell medical cannabis by retail, a pharmacy must apply for a license with the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.
Licensed pharmacies are only allowed to sell medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to qualified patients who have submitted a doctor’s certification. Also, as authorized by Louisiana Revised Statute (RS) 40: 1046.1, visitors who are holders of medical marijuana cards from other states are allowed to purchase medical cannabis and medical cannabis products from a licensed pharmacy.
Louisiana’s Act 424 imposes a limit of 71 grams or 2.5 ounces of raw cannabis flowers to be sold by a licensed medical cannabis pharmacy to a qualified patient every 14 days. For patients below the age of 21, medical cannabis in raw form can only be purchased if their doctor’s certification allows it.
In addition to medical cannabis for smoking, medical cannabis taken with a metered-dose inhaler may also be purchased. These were previously not allowed in 2015. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s 2021 annual report on the Medical Marijuana Program lists other medical cannabis products that licensed medical cannabis pharmacies are allowed to sell as tinctures, concentrates, syringes, edible gelatin chews, and topicals.
The number of medical cannabis pharmacy licenses to be issued by the Board of Pharmacy across the state is limited by Act 491 to 10. One licensed pharmacy is allowed for every LDH administrative region, with one more added to the most populous region. However, when a region’s number of active qualified patients reaches 3,500, the licensed medical cannabis pharmacy located there will be allowed to open a separate satellite location to serve the region. Active qualified patients are those who have bought medical cannabis even just once in the preceding 12 months up to July 31.
If both the satellite location and the main pharmacy are already catering to 3,500 active qualified patients respectively, the licensed medical cannabis pharmacy may be allowed to open a second satellite location in the region. If, for any reason, the licensed medical cannabis pharmacy cannot do so, the Board of Pharmacy will, instead, grant a second medical cannabis pharmacy license for the region. However, there is a limit of 30 licensed medical cannabis pharmacies and satellites to be granted across Louisiana.
Licensed medical cannabis pharmacies are required to be 15 miles or more away from each other. However, if a region has a parish with a population higher than 350,000, licensed medical cannabis pharmacies in that region can be as close as 10 miles from each other. If a region has a municipality with a population higher than 350,000, licensed medical cannabis pharmacies in that region can be as close as five miles from each other.
Yes, cannabis delivery is legal in Lafayette Parish, but this is limited to medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. Act 491 requires every licensed medical cannabis pharmacy to make available medical cannabis home delivery service to qualified patients throughout the region at least once a month. Permittees may also transport medical marijuana and medical marijuana products to another permittee, an accredited testing laboratory, and a licensed medical cannabis pharmacy.
Before medical marijuana is transported, an inventory manifest must first be created in the LMMTS, with a copy to be given to the delivery recipient. The manifest must contain the following data:
The permittee or pharmacy name
The recipient’s name
The medical cannabis or medical cannabis product type, number of units, and weight
The delivery date and time
The delivery personnel’s name
The delivery vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number
Medical marijuana cards are not provided in Lafayette Parish and throughout Louisiana. RS 40:1046 stipulates that, instead, a certification from an authorized clinician must be obtained by a patient. The clinician must recommend the usage of medical cannabis for treating the patient’s debilitating medical condition. That certification authorizes the patient to purchase medical cannabis from a licensed medical cannabis pharmacy. The patient may consult with an authorized clinician through telemedicine consultations to acquire the certification.
The following are the authorized clinicians who can issue medical cannabis certifications:
Physicians licensed by the state and who are in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
Medical psychologists licensed by the state and who are in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
Registered advanced practice nurses licensed by the state who have prescriptive authority and are in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing
For any medical condition that they are qualified to treat based on their education and training, and which they evaluate to be debilitating, authorized clinicians are permitted to provide a certification that recommends medical cannabis treatment. These medical conditions may include the following, among others:
Lewy body dementia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Spasticity\ Intractable pain
Motor neuron disease
Spinal muscular atrophy
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Severe muscle spasms
Chronic pain from sickle cell disease
Traumatic brain injury
Chronic pain from fibromyalgia
Autism spectrum disorder with any of the following behavior:
Behavior resulting in self-injury
Severe lack of communication or avoidance of people that results in putting the patient at risk
Severe repetitive or stimulating behavior endangering the patient
Aggressive or physically destructive behavior
Any illness requiring palliative or hospice care
For more information on Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program, the public may contact the LDH through the following:
Address: 628 N. 4th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Act 492 authorized the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) to apply and collect 7% of the gross medical cannabis sales of licensees or their cultivation and manufacturing permittees to licensed medical cannabis pharmacies. This amount must be deposited by the LDR monthly to the Community and Family Support System Fund. A portion of this revenue will be used for the Medical Marijuana Program’s regulatory, administrative, legal, investigative, and enforcement expenses.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s 2021 annual report, in 2021, a total of $208,919.90 was collected from employee permit fees, background check fees, and from license fees. To this, $523,700 was added from the State General Fund (SGF) to make up the $732,619.90 annual expenditure budget of the Medical Marijuana Program. This was not enough, however, to cover expenses, with a deficit amounting to $19,420.29.
In May 2021, House Bill 709, which proposed to legalize recreational cannabis, was not passed. A report from the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office states that if it were passed, the bill would raise revenue but also expenses. The increase in revenue would not cover the increase in expenses and further appropriation from the SGF would be required.
Although the law was passed in 2015, the first release of medical cannabis by licensed medical marijuana pharmacies was in 2019.
According to information provided by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2018, there were 249 arrests for marijuana possession and 30 for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This decreased in 2021 to 19 arrests for marijuana possession and four for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 49 DUI arrests in 2018. There is no data on DUI arrests after this.