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Louisiana regulators lift patient cap on the state’s medical cannabis program

During the meeting of the State Board of Medical Examiners, regulators voted 8-1 to tackle the problem

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Louisiana’s medical cannabis program has been salvaged, thanks to the removal of a patient cap on physician recommendations.

The state’s medical cannabis program was destined for failure before regulators removed limitations on recommendations, which previously restricted physicians to putting forward a mere 100 patients each for enrollment in the program.

Thus far, just 48 doctors have registered with Louisiana’s medical cannabis program, putting a cap on patients at 4,700. Thankfully, this figure will increase, following the elimination of the patient cap.

Patient cap on Louisiana’s medical cannabis program causes long waiting list in state clinics

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People in Louisiana have struggled to get their hands on weed-based medicines, despite the state adding six new qualifying conditions for medical cannabis at the beginning of this year.

After the list of qualifying conditions was expanded, approximately 100,000 patients became eligible to receive medicinal cannabis. With less than 5,000 patients able to obtain a recommendation from physicians in Louisiana, this leaves some 95,000 people without access to medicinal weed.

Among the 48 doctors who have registered with Louisiana’s medical cannabis program, Dr. Victor Chou was one of the first to register.

The doctor claims to have reached his patient cap just two weeks after the launch of his clinic in Baton Rouge. According to Chou, his patient waiting list currently rests at the 700 mark.

“Many of them feel locked out because they either cannot find physicians or the physicians they find already have hit the 100-patient limit,” Chou explained to the board.

Cultivators in Louisiana are concerned about cannabis patient cap

Last month, the first crop of legal cannabis was planted in the State of Louisiana by licensed growers. While this was a milestone event for the cannabis-friendly state, licensed cultivators aren’t exactly jumping for joy. The illogical patient limit has caused concern among cannabis businesspeople who doubt their profit potential due to the patient cap on Louisiana’s medical cannabis program.

During the meeting of the State Board of Medical Examiners, regulators voted 8-1 to tackle the problem by completely abolishing the cap on Louisiana’s medical cannabis program.

“If we’re going to treat this as a drug or medication, then the physician should be responsible in the physician/patient relationship to treat that patient appropriately through his scope of process,” said the board’s vice-president, Dr. Roderick Clark, during a discussion with the Associated Press. “We already have rules about that. We have laws about that.”

Board of Medical Examiners remove additional restrictions on Louisiana’s medical cannabis program

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The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) really made an effort to lift restrictions on the state’s medical cannabis program. Members of the board, which was established in 1894, voted 5-4 to lift a restriction requiring medical cannabis patients to arrange a doctoral visit once every 90 days in order to maintain the validity of their recommendations.

The parents and guardians of autistic children also urged officials to rescind a rule mandating they visit a specialist in pediatric care to receive medical cannabis recommendations.

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Louisiana regulators lift patient cap on the state’s medical cannabis program