Reports indicate that there are more than 43,000 medical marijuana patients in Louisiana. Back in 2015, state lawmakers agreed to allow patients access to therapeutic cannabis, though the first designated dispensary wasn’t open until four years later.
Have you been thinking about participating in the program yourself?
Medical marijuana could help you find relief from certain medical conditions, but it’s important to make sure you qualify before you begin the registration process. Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the Louisiana medical marijuana program to help you get started!
How Does the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program Work?
On August 1, 2022, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) assumed regulatory control of the state’s medical marijuana program. To date, there are two medical marijuana manufacturers that are licensed in the state. These include:
- The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
- The Southern University Agricultural Center
Both of these entities have contracts with a third-party firm that allow them to handle all aspects of cannabis growth, cultivation, processing, testing, and transportation. Before distributing any batch of the product, they test it for quality and purity. They also check to ensure that the batch does not contain THC content levels that exceed state regulations.
Once the firm confirms that the cannabis is pure and permissible, it will transport the medical cannabis to one of the 10 currently licensed pharmacies and dispensaries located throughout the state. Once there, it can be distributed to consumers.
Legislative Changes Over the Years
Louisiana’s history of medical cannabis is rich, going back farther than you might realize. The state first authorized the use of medical marijuana in 1991, under Act No. 874, and officially launched its comprehensive medical cannabis program in 2016. Over the years, legislators have made many changes to the way doctors, producers, and pharmacies can be licensed.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the main changes that have occurred:
- 2018: Louisiana expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions deemed appropriate for medical marijuana treatment
- 2020: Passed HB 211 to protect banks and physicians
- 2020: Passed HB 418 to protect hospitals from falling under marijuana-related state prosecution
- 2020: Passed HB 819 increase the list of conditions even more, allowing physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any debilitating condition they are licensed to treat if they believe it can help the patient
- 2022: State legislature approved smoking cannabis or consuming “raw or crude” cannabis
Receiving Your Medical Marijuana Recommendation
Following the standard set by most states, Louisiana requires patients to obtain an official recommendation for medical marijuana from a state-licensed health professional.
According to the state legislature, the following professionals are authorized to provide patient recommendations under this mandate:
- Any physician licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to practice medicine in the state
- Any nurse practitioner licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to conduct advanced-practice registered nursing in the state (with prescriptive authority from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing)
- Any medical psychologist licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to practice medical psychology in the state
All of the above medical professionals are deemed authorized clinicians. Note that while licensure from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners is required, each clinician must also be in good standing with the Board. The first step toward getting your medical marijuana card in Louisiana is to schedule an appointment with one of these clinicians.
When you meet with your doctor, they’ll begin by going over your medical history. They will also go into detail about your condition, asking you questions and allowing you to explain the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. It can be helpful to bring in any notes or documents that can help your physician understand more about the extent and duration of your suffering.
Attending a Virtual Visit
Does the idea of scheduling an in-person doctor’s visit sound too time-consuming? That’s because it often is! The good news is that you don’t have to visit a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office to move forward with your medical marijuana registration.
With platforms like ours, you can handle everything online in a matter of minutes. At TeleLeaf, we can connect you instantly with doctors who are licensed to practice in the state of Louisiana. We have appointments available six days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Here are a few of the benefits of going this route:
- Our HIPAA-compliant electronic medical records (EMR platform) ensures your privacy, security, and discretion
- We personally recruit, screen, and hand-select our professional, licensed doctors
- All transactions occur at the end of your doctor’s visits, and you’ll receive a 100% refund if you are not approved
- You can schedule appointments around your schedule, choosing a time that works best for you
- You can receive immediate access to the medical cannabis you need, connecting with licensed pharmacists on the same day as your evaluation and recommendation submission
Our step-by-step process makes it easy to get started. Once you decide to work with TeleLeaf, all you have to do is:
- Complete our online intake form
- Meet with your doctor online
- Receive your medical marijuana recommendation (sent to one of nine local pharmacies in your region)
- Gain access to available medical marijuana products
- Attend an initial consultation with a licensed pharmacist to go over available products, dosing protocols, and product selection
Bringing the Required Documents
To prepare for your doctor’s visit (virtual with us or in-person with your local clinician), you’ll need to establish proof of your identity. You’ll also need to prove that you are a resident of the state of Louisiana.
The following documents can serve as your proof of residency:
- A copy of your driver’s license
- A state-issued ID
- Your vehicle registration
- Your voter registration
- Correspondence from another state agency that includes a current date
- A current car insurance bill
You can prove your identity with a state-approved ID or any document that clearly shows your name, current address, and current date. If you are obtaining your medical marijuana certificate with TeleLeaf, you will also need the following documents:
- A completed and signed minor form for all patients under 18 years of age (if required)
- A completed and signed patient authorization form for any caregivers applying on behalf of a medical cannabis patient (must include the patient’s license number, which they will receive after their application is approved)
Obtaining Your MMJ Card in Louisiana
After your doctor’s visit, the physician will analyze whether your medical condition qualifies for the use of medical marijuana. To do so, they will compare your condition against the state’s approved list of qualifying conditions. If they believe that medical cannabis is a viable and appropriate treatment option, they will recommend it as part of your treatment plan.
From there, the doctor will send your official recommendation to a licensed medical marijuana pharmacy located near you. You can visit the pharmacy to obtain the medical marijuana prescription your doctor recommended. Unlike many states, you will not receive an official MMJ card in Louisiana.
Rather, the doctor’s signed certification and recommendation will serve as your official medical marijuana patient ID documentation. This is the only document you need to purchase legal medical cannabis products. You can only purchase cannabis from state-approved pharmacies and dispensaries in Louisiana.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis in Louisiana?
Before any patient can receive an official recommendation to begin taking medical marijuana, their clinician must first confirm that they suffer from a condition that cannabis has been deemed effective to treat.
Each state has its own list of approved qualifying conditions. In Louisiana, they are referred to as debilitating medical conditions. If a patient is afflicted with one, their clinician can recommend the following treatments:
- Raw or crude marijuana
- A chemical derivative of a tetrahydrocannabinol
Patients may use obtain substances for therapeutic use. Yet, before they can fill that prescription, they must ensure their condition qualifies.
The conditions below have been approved for medical cannabis in Louisiana:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Bell’s Palsy
- Bipolar Disorder
- Back Pain
- Crohn’s Disease
- Muscle Spasms
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Cocaine dependence
- Cystic fibrosis
- Huntington’s disease
- Essential tremors
- Headache tension
- Headaches, migraine
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Intractable vomiting
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Lyme disease
- Malignant melanoma
- Meniere’s disease
- Motion sickness
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular dystrophy
- Opiate dependence
- Panic disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Radiation therapy
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Tobacco dependence
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Wasting syndrome
Additional Conditions Not Listed
As you can see, this list is quite extensive! Yet, it is not exhaustive. The Louisiana Department of Health explains that if an authorized clinician believes their patient is suffering from a debilitating condition that is not included on this list, they can use their discretion.
The state mandates that they are qualified through their experience, clinical education, and professional training to make this recommendation.
Special Points and Explanations
Louisiana state legislature includes special points and explanations about two conditions on this list:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Intractable pain
Let’s take a closer look at what the law says.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Under state law, authorized clinicians cannot recommend medical marijuana to treat any condition associated with autism spectrum disorder if the patient is under 18 years of age. The only exception would be if the clinician closely complies with all provisions and meets with a pediatric subspecialist to confirm that medical cannabis is the best route forward.
In this case, the law defines a pediatric subspecialist as someone who is licensed to practice medicine in any state throughout the U.S. They must include patients with autism spectrum disorders in their care coverage.
Chronic and intractable pain can be a little tricky to diagnose. Often, patients cannot pinpoint exactly where their discomfort originates. State law describes this type of pain state as one in which the cause of the pain can’t be eliminated or treated in any other way.
If a clinician receives patient consent and determines that there isn’t a type of relief or cure possible (or they cannot find one after reasonable efforts), they can recommend medical marijuana as an appropriate treatment. By going this route, they confirm that the pain is chronic and severe enough to warrant an opioid prescription.
How Much Medical Marijuana Can You Obtain In Louisiana?
Your clinician approved the use of medical marijuana for your medical condition and submitted the official recommendation. Now, you may wonder exactly how much cannabis you’re allowed to obtain.
The law makes this point clear. No state-licensed pharmacy is allowed or authorized to dispense raw or crude marijuana that exceeds this limit:
- More than 2.5 ounces or 71 grams every 14 days
However, that isn’t the only stipulation. Louisiana pharmacies are also prohibited from dispensing medical marijuana (raw or crude) to anyone under 21 years of age without a recommendation from a state-authorized clinician.
To date, there are nine pharmacies in Louisiana that are licensed and appointed by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to supply medical marijuana products to patients with a medical marijuana certificate from their doctor.
Apply for Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certificate With Us
Now that you know a little more about how the process works and which conditions qualify, are you ready to apply for your Louisiana medical marijuana certificate?
To get started, all you have to do is create an account and log onto the TeleLeaf platform. We’ll walk you through the steps required to schedule your appointment, meet with your doctor, and obtain your certificate.
If you’re suffering from one of the conditions listed above, you’re not alone. Medical cannabis could alleviate your symptoms and help you find relief. To learn more about how our process works, contact us today!