The southern states are among the last to take action when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana – and after many years, Louisiana is finally making significant steps towards offering legal relief for many patients. It was just less than a month ago that the Senate introduced and passed a bill that would expand the number of conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana as well as finally provide laws to govern the production and distribution of the plant.
After hours of debate at the House floor the final vote was 62-31, passing SB.271 and bringing it back to the Senate to vote again after a few revisions that were made in the House. The bill would allow low-THC medical marijuana oil for patients with seizure conditions, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease and MS. It also changes the language to allow physicians to recommend cannabis – since prescribing a schedule I drug could technically cost them their DEA prescription rights.
“Let’s do something to safeguard that,” Mack, an Albany Republican said. “Let’s make sure it’s going to the intended purpose, which is to help sick kids.”
Of course, things like this never manage to happen without there being at least one group who is loudly voicing their objection to the bill. In this case it was the Sheriff’s department and a few members of congress who were spreading the unnecessary fears. They used the argument that medical marijuana would eventually lead to full legalization and that to prevent such things they might make medical marijuana possession without a recommendation to be a felony offence.
“Haven’t we led to the highest incarceration rate in the world?” Magee said. “You are only adding to a failed strategy.”
Luckily the number of activists and parents begging for the bill to pass were enough for them to skip these kinds of measures and passed the bill with only minor revisions. Even the Governor’s wife, First Lady Donna Edwards, was calling House representatives urging them to vote in favor of the bill. The bill was written to be strict and only allow a limited number of patients who would absolutely benefit from marijuana and does not allow it in any smoked forms.
Due to the changes made during the bill’s time in the House of Representatives it will need one final vote by the upper Senate before it will be sent to the Governor’s desk – but this is anticipated to happen rather smoothly and the Senate is expected to pass the bill without much hesitation.
If that is the case this bill could be signed into law before the end of the month, at which point LSU and Southern University will have until September 1st to accept or refuse their right to grow and sell the medical marijuana. Either way the medicine is not expected to reach patients for at least 18 months. The unfortunate truth about legalizing medical marijuana is that even once the laws are in place you still have to wait for the rest of the industry to catch up. On the bright side, even 18 months is sooner than if they waited another year or two to pass this kind of bill.