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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 27, 2020

    medical cannabis oilSenators on Wednesday passed legislation to significantly expand the pool of patients eligible to qualify for medical cannabis access.

    Members voted 28 to 6 in favor of an amended version of House Bill 819, which expands the discretion of physicians so that they can recommend cannabis therapy for “any condition” that he or she “considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his [or her] medical education and training to treat.” Under the current law, doctors may only recommend medical cannabis products to those patients with a limited number of select conditions, such as HIV and cancer.

    A handful of states, such as California, Maine, and Virginia, have enacted similar measures providing physicians with the ability to recommend medical cannabis preparations to any patient who they believe may benefit from them.

    Members of the House previously passed the measure by a vote of 77 to 15. As amended by the Senate, state-licensed dispensaries will be mandated to “comply with the reporting requirements of the [state’s] prescription monitoring program.”

    House Bill 819 is scheduled for a concurrence vote on Friday.

    Other bills before the Senate include HB 792, which establishes regulations permitting the home delivery of medical cannabis products to registered patients, and HB 418, which provides immunity from prosecution to “any facility that is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health that has patients in its care using medical marijuana.”

    The state’s legislative session concludes at 6pm on Monday, June 1, 2020.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 22, 2020

    Republic Gov. Kevin Stitt has vetoed legislation, House Bill 3288, which sought to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis and make other amendments to the state’s marijuana laws.

    In his veto message, the Governor wrote: “The language in the bill makes substantial policy changes to the medical marijuana program that were not fully scrutinized through normal legislative procedures before the bill was received by my office in the middle of the night Saturday. While there is much room for improvement in the way our state’s program operates, this bill does not address those items in a way I can support.”

    The bill sought to allow operators to engage in the home delivery of medical cannabis products to authorized patients who live within a ten-mile radius of a state-licensed facility. Other provisions in the bill sought to enhance privacy protections for patients and caregivers registered in the program and strengthen parental rights for qualified patients.

    Separate language in the measure amended criminal penalties for persons who possess marijuana (up to 42.45 grams) without a state-issued medical card from a maximum penalty of $1,000 and up to one year in jail to a $400 fine and no jail time.

    Members of both chambers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure. However, Senate leadership was unwilling to hold a vote in an effort to override the Governor’s veto.

    Lawmakers this afternoon voted to adjourn the 2020 legislative session sin die (with no intended date to resume).