Louisiana Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill into Law

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On May 19, 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 271, expanding the number of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program and revising regulations to expedite access, as well as adding language to protect physicians, according to WAFB News.

On June 29, 2015, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law that started the implementation and regulation of medical marijuana, which had technically been legalized in 1991; however, the law only listed three conditions that qualified for medical marijuana: glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia and symptoms resulting from the administration of chemotherapy cancer treatment.

Under the newly enacted SB 271, patients clinically diagnosed with one of the following debilitating medical conditions will have legal access to medical marijuana: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, severe muscle spasms, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.

In regards to physicians and SB 271, the word “prescribe” was replaced with “recommend”—marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s not federally recognized as having any medicinal value, so to “prescribe” it could jeopardize a physician’s license.

Southern University and LSU have until Sept. 1 to decide whether to be state-sanctioned medical marijuana cultivators. In addition to the selection of cultivators, the state will also have to select 10 licensed distributors.

Edwards held a bill signing on May 19 for SB 271, which can be watched in its entirety below.

The staff byline designates content that has been written by a staff writer of MJINews.

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