As cannabis legalization sweeps across America, a lot of confusion exists when it comes to specific laws in various states. Louisiana just took a step in the right direction by approving the ‘Inhalation Bill’ for medical products.
Cannabis has been legal for medical purposes in Louisiana for some years. At the same time, recreational cannabis use remains illegal even though it’s tolerated through decriminalization. Four years ago Governor Bobby Jindal signed HB 149 into law which officially formulated a system for dispensing medical cannabis.
However, when it comes to medical cannabis inhalation devices, it’s been a tricky situation; until now. This week, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 82-0 in favor of a bill allowing approved medical cannabis patients access to inhalation products. The new law only covers metered-dose inhalers and not other forms of cannabis that can be smoked or vaporized.
Until now, under the Louisiana medical cannabis program, only cannabis oils, pills, and creams were legal for medical use, but that didn’t fill the need for patients who need immediate relief which only happens when cannabis is taken via the lungs.
The new bill almost hit the tracks when it was shelved over concerns from Sen. Dan Claitor, among others, over additional delivery methods for cannabis. Then, Sen. Fred Mills jumped to save the bill, and people seemed to listen to what he had to say, maybe because he’s also a qualified pharmacist.
As Sen. Mills said to the Senate members, “If someone has a debilitating disease and this quick-acting meter dose inhalation will give someone quicker relief … who are we to stop that?” he asked.
The new move was lauded by many in the medical cannabis community. Kevin Caldwell, the head of cannabis policy reform group CommonSense NOLA, said about the new bill, “(The bill) is a positive step to move forward to getting Louisiana to have a recognized therapeutic cannabis program. I think the bill accomplished everything it could this session,” he said.
Hampton Grunewald, associate vice president for governmental relations at LSU, also spoke to reporters following the vote. Grunewald confirmed that new cannabis products should reach medical dispensary shelves before long, The products will need to go through a robust testing protocol before they can be sold to consumers; it’s hoped, in time for the summer.
As Grunewald said, “We don’t see any hiccups between now and the end of May. But there may be something we don’t even know is there. That’s the same for (the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry) with testing. We both have things in front of us that we’ve never seen before. We fully anticipate having at least by the end of May product available for testing.” Many patients in Louisiana are thrilled with the new move by the state legislature, although many feel it’s too little too late.
As numerous states across the US move to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes fully, some people are asking why the state of Louisiana is so tricky when it comes to reliable cannabis products like inhalation devices. Nevertheless, the latest move in the Senate there is a step very much in the right direction and one that many have welcomed with open arms.