Louisiana’s medical cannabis market set to transform from a poor performer to a strong sales generator

Louisiana’s medical cannabis market set to transform from a poor performer to a strong sales generator

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Following a years-long uphill battle with some of the harshest cannabis-focused regulations in the nation, Louisiana’s medical cannabis market is well-positioned for some serious growth.

In January, cannabis consumers will be able to legally purchase raw flower from the state’s licensed dispensaries, of which there are nine.

Currently, registered patients are limited to purchasing portable vaporizers, topicals and infused tinctures through the existing market.

Expansion could help Louisiana’s medical cannabis market to achieve MJBizFactbook’s projections of $100 million in sales revenue next year, before potentially inflating to $400 million by 2025. 

Louisiana’s expanded medical cannabis program is attracting more patients

Despite initially transpiring back in 2015, the rollout of Louisiana’s medical cannabis market didn’t officially happen until 2019. As per the law, only 10 dispensaries and two cultivators can legally serve the market. 

Unlike other medical cannabis-friendly states across the U.S., dispensaries in Louisiana must operate as pharmacies. In addition to this, dispensaries must employ licensed pharmacists to serve registered patients.

The state’s list of qualifying conditions was previously limited to the point that a mere 3,000 patients managed to meet the eligibility criteria for legal purchases when sales launched. 

However, state lawmakers amended the terms for qualifying conditions last year. Now that any physician can prescribe medical cannabis in Louisiana for patients who suffer from specific ailments, the rate of patient enrollment has understandably surged.

During the second half of 2020, patients were indulged with edibles and controlled dose vaporizers. Due to the immediate popularity of these products among patients of all ages, statewide dispensaries started welcoming an influx of new transactions.

Louisiana’s medical cannabis market is strained

Even though efforts have been made to encourage increased patient involvement in Louisiana’s medical cannabis program, the market is still acknowledged as one of the most restrictive in the U.S.

Poor advertising opportunities, unimpressive patient enrollment figures and a sluggish regulatory approval process are just some examples of the obstacles commonly faced by licensed cannabis business owners in Louisiana.

By September 30, 2021, a confirmed 28,174 patients had received one medical cannabis recommendation since the 2019 sales launch. However, by Q3 2021, just 14,663 had purchased medicinal-grade cannabis. That works out at less than 0.5 percent of Louisiana’s population, which is estimated at around 4.6 million.

Revised sales forecasts published in the MJBizFactbook suggest that revenue may settle somewhere between $90 million and $110 million in 2022. This year’s sales estimates rest at $40 million-$50 million. By the year 2025, analysts believe that annual sales may amount to $330 million-$400 million.