Medical marijuana continues to expand in the United States. Now, 37 states and the District of Columbia permit it.
This shift is due to the numerous benefits medical marijuana affords. These include treatment for many different health conditions.
Each of these states requires a medical marijuana prescription. Depending on where you live, obtaining and renewing these can be daunting. It requires regular evaluations by a physician and filling prescriptions at specific locations.
Following these steps is vital in states like Louisiana. That is because recreational marijuana (including possession) is illegal. Also, you need to renew your prescription in a timely and accurate matter to maintain continuity of access.
The good news is that, once you understand the particular steps for renewing a cannabis prescription, you should have no issues. Keep reading to find out how. The information below will help you get your medication and ensure that you are doing so in full compliance with the law.
A Brief History of Medical Cannabis
Human beings have used cannabis for thousands of years across the globe. Throughout history, it has served various roles in society. These include medical, religious, and recreational purposes.
The first documented case of medical marijuana is from 2800 BCE. It appeared on the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung’s list of treatments. Although, possible references to cannabis use may date as far back as ancient Assyrian, Greek, and Hindu civilizations.
Medical use of cannabis in the West began as late as the 19th century. An Irish physician used it to treat seizures in children. This sparked great interest and research into the medical potential marijuana possessed.
What Is Medical Marijuana?
The cannabis plant has dozens of compounds. Perhaps the best-known one is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
This is the primary ingredient in marijuana that produces intoxication, or a “high.” It also is what makes marijuana so effective at treating certain medical conditions.
Another compound is cannabidiol (CBD). Products with CBD are legal for distribution in almost every state. It has its own set of medical advantages and can treat mild anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other conditions.
There also are different types of THC, including delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10. These correspond with the number of double-bonded carbon atoms in the strain.
“Medical marijuana” almost always refers to delta-9 THC. Other low-THC forms like delta-8, along with CBD products, are legal in many states and sold without a prescription.
It is worth noting that these products are not regulated. This means they could be contaminated and contain other chemicals, which could be dangerous to your health.
Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is regulated by the locations where prescribed. This means agencies test it for purity, safety, and appropriate dosage.
Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana
There are many health benefits specific to medical marijuana. It has long been an effective treatment for ocular pressure caused by glaucoma. It can lessen the severity of seizures caused by epilepsy or other neurological diseases.
Medical cannabis can help muscle spasms caused by ALS and MLS. It can relax muscles in general, which is beneficial to many conditions.
Marijuana can help curb nausea or vomiting. This has made it a popular treatment for the side effects of chemotherapy used to combat cancer.
One is the most common uses of marijuana is for severe and chronic pain relief. This includes joint pain stemming from arthritis. It also can treat pain associated with HIV/AIDS, fibromyalgia, or serious injuries.
Most recently, medical marijuana has shown much promise in treating mental health conditions. These include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also is an effective treatment for insomnia.
Is Medical Marijuana Safe?
In general, medical marijuana is safe to use. As mentioned above, it is heavily regulated for purity. Also, it is taken under the care of a physician, which minimizes potential negative outcomes.
Note that there are side effects associated with marijuana use. These include impaired concentration and memory, as well as slower reaction times and dizziness. It impairs your ability to drive and operate heavy machinery.
It could also interact with other medications to cause more serious issues. For these reasons, you will want to discuss your entire medical history with your prescribing physician. He or she can help you weigh potential risks with the benefits medical marijuana affords.
Federal Marijuana Laws
Under federal law, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This means that even possession can still carry heavy fines and jail time in certain locations.
The evolution of medical marijuana state laws has been a long and storied one. It has involved various lawsuits and U.S. Supreme Court decisions to get us where we are today.
In general, each state decides whether to allow medical marijuana. In locations that do, there is heavy regulation and tracking of distribution and prescriptions.
Medical Marijuana in Louisiana
In 2019, a bill passed by the Louisiana State Legislature declared medical marijuana legal in the state. This made them the first Southern state to do so.
Under the original law, only certain forms of medical marijuana were permissible. These included tinctures, oils, and extracts. In 2022, the Legislature passed a measure to allow smoking or vaping marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Many restrictions govern medical marijuana in Louisiana. Until recently, the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry implemented these.
In 2022, the state transferred these responsibilities to the state Department of Health. That agency interprets all regulations about the permitting of medical marijuana.
There are two licensed growers of medical marijuana in Louisiana. These are now located at Louisiana State University and Southern University’s agriculture centers. They test each batch for purity and to ensure the proper THC levels.
Approved cannabis is then transported to one of the state-licensed pharmacies. The law requires dispensaries to distribute the lowest possible THC level suitable for the diagnosis. There are currently nine main locations throughout the state, with more satellite offices planned for the near future.
These dispensaries provide information to a database run by the Department of Health. It tracks the amount of medical cannabis distributed as well as information about each patient.
While doctors determine the dosage for each patient, there are caps written into the law. No pharmacy can give out more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis to a single patient during a 14-day span, regardless of the prescription.
The Louisiana medical marijuana law also makes exemptions for employers. Work-based insurance plans are not forced to cover employees’ medical marijuana prescriptions.
How to Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Lousiana
Qualifying for a medical marijuana prescription in Louisiana is pretty straightforward. Yet you must follow the proper steps to ensure you qualify.
First of all, you have to be a permanent resident of the state. Next, the law states that medical marijuana prescriptions are only for certain diseases and ailments. The bill that legalized cannabis contained a long list of these “debilitating medical conditions.”
These include everything from Alzheimer’s and autism to epilepsy, glaucoma, and cancer. While some of these are very specific ailments that demand a diagnosis, other categories are vaguer.
For instance, the language also includes any condition that causes “chronic pain.” So, even if you do not find your specific condition on this list, you may still qualify for a prescription.
Next, you will need to schedule an appointment with a licensed and approved physician. You must present a state-issued photo identification card (such as a driver’s license), that both proves who you are and that you live in the state.
The doctor will ask you to provide basic medical history information. They will want to discuss your qualifying condition and the relief medical marijuana might offer. They also can answer any questions you might have about the benefits and potential side effects involved.
If approved, the physician will complete the requisite application form. They will then submit it to a medical cannabis dispensary of your choice. The pharmacy will register this information with the state’s database.
Note that Louisiana does not make patients separately register or maintain a medical marijuana card. The doctor’s certification is the only qualifying documentation you need to access medical cannabis.
How to Renew a Medical Marijuana Prescription in Lousiana
The prescription renewal process for medical marijuana is less onerous in Louisiana. Yet, it is still important to follow the correct steps to ensure the continuity of your prescription. The state requires that you do this every year.
The first step is to schedule an appointment with a licensed physician. Louisiana does permit telemedicine appointments for medical marijuana prescriptions. This was a change from the original statute (one prompted in part by the COVID pandemic).
Revisiting the original prescribing doctor will make things more straightforward. That is because they will already be familiar with your medical history and qualifying condition. If you need to change doctors for any reason, you can request the original clinic to transfer records and notes from your previous visit.
The new physician will still need you to prove that you live in the state. This is a strict rule of the renewal process laid out by law.
Also, be sure to bring any new medical information or changes to your health from the past 12 months. The physician will check your current health status.
Do not assume that renewal is automatic. The doctor may decide that your condition has improved to a level that does not warrant medical marijuana. They also could determine that the drawbacks of the treatment outweigh the benefits.
One of the most important things you can do is to not wait until the last minute to start the renewal process. If any unforeseen obstacles pop up, you will want to have plenty of time to address them. This will ensure that your prescription and treatment are not interrupted.
Hire a Professional Service
If you disagree with a denial of a medical marijuana prescription renewal, there are options. If you are having difficulty with any step in the qualifying process, there are professional services that can help.
These companies know the ins and outs of the qualifying procedures. They can help you avoid any pitfalls along the way.
This has the added benefit of keeping track of requisite steps going forward. These include doctor’s visits, refill requirements, and subsequent changes to the prescription.
This alleviates the work and stress of having to keep up with the details of the program yourself. It also guarantees that you are in full compliance with the law at all times.
Most prominent companies will guarantee approval after an initial consultation. They will want to gauge your eligibility and assess your unique circumstances.
Reputable agencies will not make you pay a dime if they fail to get you approved. This means you have nothing to lose by getting information and speaking to someone about any difficulties you encounter.
Also, some companies will include any charges associated with medical marijuana prescriptions in their membership fees. This means you pay a single price for their services and get your prescription renewed.
Get Help With Your Medical Marijuana Prescription Renewal
Now that you know the process for medical marijuana prescription renewal in Louisiana, you can proceed accordingly. Remember that, as long as you follow the correct steps, you can enjoy uninterrupted medical cannabis treatment that is safe and legal.
At TeleLeaf, our goal is to help individuals reach their personal health goals through alternative treatment options. We are a premier service that connects patients with qualified, licensed doctors. Reach out to us today for help getting your medical marijuana prescription renewal or with other questions you might have.