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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Messages: State medical marijuana program has plenty of room for growth

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The Louisiana Medical Marijuana Legislative Study Commission will conclude soon, after months of study and scrutiny of our state’s cutting-edge medical cannabis program. Expert testimony and shared information point to one clear action: Expand the program’s production and accessibility to meet the medical needs of Louisiana patients.

The barrier to accessing affordable medical services starts from the current structure of the medical cannabis program itself. Louisiana only allows licensed growers. I appreciate that the legislature is looking into this matter as demand grows. The lack of supply and the largely high demand will not do much harm to Louisiana residents who medically recommend cannabis.

Louisiana has the highest prices for medical marijuana in the United States. During committee meetings, patients testified to pay more than $1,500 per month for medical cannabis, and dispensary owners testified that there were supply problems. All this leads to the inability of patients in need to reach them.

As lawmakers prepare for the 2022 regular session, many hope the state will approve more licensed growers and drugstore dispensaries.

To provide safe and accessible medical cannabis, the state must improve its indigenous legislation. If Louisiana allows the smart growth of farmers and dispensaries, it will see an immediate increase in access, competition will be introduced into the program and medicine will become more expensive. More farming and additional pharmacies means more opportunities for research and development, more therapeutic varieties for our patients and a sustainable program that is less prone to crop failure. These improvements will help reduce opioid addiction and illicit drug crime.

Louisiana must increase the supply chain by expanding growers and dispensaries to allow access to medically recommended, safe, and affordable cannabis treatment.

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