Medical cannabis patients in Louisiana spend hours queuing to purchase newly legal smokable flower

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The new year has brought new cannabis laws to Louisiana and, for many people, newfound joy. 

On January 1, 2022, patients scurried in the direction of Louisiana’s medical cannabis pharmacies to obtain smokable plant for the first time, albeit with hours-long waits.

Prior to the new law’s adoption, it was illegal to obtain smokable medical cannabis flower in Louisiana; just vapes, tinctures and other non-smokable products were formerly available.

Long-awaited, the first smokable batch of store-sold bud consisted of three unique strains. Prices which depend on the particular pharmacy selling the product range from $35 to $80 for one eighth of an ounce.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry approved 193 pounds of cannabis for sale

Starting January 1 the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry approved 193 pounds of medicinal cannabis for retail sale. However, only 150 pounds of smokable flower was distributed amongst nine dispensaries. 

The amount of cannabis that was distributed among Louisiana’s medical cannabis dispensaries is equivalent to almost 20,000 eighth-ounce servings. 

It is the first of many batches likely to gain approval from state regulators. According to growers, larger shipments will arrive within the next few days/weeks.

All cannabis was produced by two of the state’s licensed growers, of which there are just two.

About the expansion of Louisiana’s medical cannabis program

A law sponsored by Houma Rep. Tanner Magee the second best House Republican resulted in Louisiana’s medical cannabis law being expanded. The primary aim of the law is to help state residents save money on medical cannabis treatments.

Excessive pricing remains to be one of the main obstacles preventing people from accessing pharmaceutical-grade cannabis across states that have legalized the plant for medical purposes, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Up until raw smokable flower was added to the list of available products for sale in Louisiana’s licensed dispensaries, retailers were limited to selling medical cannabis in the form of edible gummies, inhalers, topical applications and liquids. 

There is less need for smokable flower to undergo processing and therefore it’s understandable why these products would be much cheaper for patients.

Since the legal framework for Louisiana’s medical cannabis program was established in 2015, lawmakers have progressively amended the rules to improve ease of access for enrolled patients. 

The majority of the new medical cannabis expansion laws were approved in a legislative session that concluded last June. During the fall, after a measure was sent to the ballot by lawmakers for review, voters also approved changes to income tax.