Louisiana’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill late Monday evening that would allow marijuana in a smokable form to be added to the state’s medical cannabis program.
This is the biggest expansion to the medical program since cannabis first became available in 2019.
Republican House Speaker Pro-tem Tanner Magee’s House Bill 391 resulted in a 73-26 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for debate.
Magee and other advocates of expanding the medical cannabis program said the current products legally available, such as tinctures, topical creams, gummies and metered-dose inhalers, are too expensive for several patients.
In a statement, Magee said, “Most of the products are not covered by insurance. This is a way to provide a more affordable option. This is wildly popular in every corner of the state, and it is what people need.”
State Representative Larry Bagley (R-Stonewall), told USA Today Network on Monday that medical cannabis has been a miracle drug in relieving pain for one of his close relatives.
Although Bagley says he has never smoked cannabis, he says he has seen the relief it can provide.
John Davis of the Wellcana Group, one of the state’s two authorized cannabis growers as a partner with the LSU AgCenter, said the current medical cannabis products are costly because they require expensive equipment to process them.
Magee’s House Bill 514 companion bill that would apply state sales taxes to the raw marijuana product, or flower, has already passed the full House with 70 votes. Currently, medical cannabis products are not subject to sales tax.
House Bill 514 would only tax the raw smokable form of the plant, not the tinctures and gummies that are already on the market.
Doctors cannot technically prescribe medical marijuana because it remains illegal federally. However, state doctors can recommend medical cannabis to anyone for any condition they believe would benefit from the medicine.