Is weed legal in Louisiana?
Yes and no. Medical marijuana is legal for qualified patients to purchase at state-approved pharmacies. Cannabis for recreational use remains illegal in Louisiana.
Act No. 874 of the 1991 Louisiana legislative session legalized medical marijuana. But it used the word “prescribe,” putting doctors in the crosshairs of federal law enforcement, and it made no allowances for dispensing, selling, or possessing medical cannabis.
Subsequent legislation, SB No. 541, tweaked qualifying conditions and called on the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to oversee the Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Board and facilitate the licensing of doctors, producers, and pharmacies. However, neither the board nor the DHH made substantive progress toward getting medical cannabis into the hands of patients.
In 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 271, making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to create a comprehensive medical cannabis program. The bill replaced language in the 1991 medical marijuana law stating that physicians must “prescribe” medical marijuana to patients, which was impossible because marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law. Physicians can only recommend cannabis to a patient since all federal Schedule I drugs are considered dangerous and without medical value.
SB 271 mandated that medical marijuana must be provided in processed, non-smokable forms and distributed to patients through up to 10 pharmacies. It gave LSU and Southern University the right of first refusal to become licensed marijuana production centers for the state, and allowed for one additional producer to be licensed. But the state delayed implementation several times because of legislative changes, supply availability, and a lack of testing laboratories.
In June 2018, Edwards signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expanded the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana and called on LSU and Southern University to conduct research on the medicinal value of marijuana.
In 2018, the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners eliminated a rule that made 100 patients the maximum number that could be treated by doctors licensed under the state’s medical marijuana program. The board also removed a restriction that required patients to see their doctor every 90 days to renew orders for medical cannabis.
In 2020, when coronavirus pandemic restrictions shut down legislative sessions in many states, Louisiana passed three new laws relevant to its medical marijuana program. HB 211 protected banks and physicians and HB 418 protected hospitals from state marijuana-related prosecution. HB 819 both expanded the list of qualifying conditions and made it obsolete by allowing physicians to recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they are qualified to treat if they believe the patient will benefit.
The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners oversees the state’s medical marijuana program for physicians. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) oversees regulations governing the cultivation, processing, and testing of cannabis. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy is responsible for licensing dispensaries, determining allowable forms of cannabis, and developing testing rules.
Where is it safe to purchase weed in Louisiana?
Once a patient has been seen by a credentialed physician and that physician has transmitted a medical marijuana recommendation (including dosage) to the pharmacy, a patient can make a purchase. The Board of Pharmacy adopted rules specifying allowed forms of medical marijuana in Louisiana.
Those forms include:
- Metered-dose inhalers
- Topical oils or lotions
- Transdermal patches
Patients can purchase up to a one-month supply of medical marijuana products from permitted pharmacies, which are distributed throughout the state.
Recommended doses and purchased amounts of cannabis are recorded and monitored in the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System.
Louisiana pharmacies can sell cannabis procured from one of two growing facilities, both in Baton Rouge, licensed by the LDAF: Louisiana State University in partnership with GB Sciences or Southern University in partnership with Ilera Holistic Healthcare.
Finding licensed pharmacies in Louisiana
Medical marijuana patients can find licensed pharmacies in Louisiana and search by cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.
Where is it safe to consume cannabis?
Unprocessed forms of cannabis, including flower, are illegal for possession and consumption.
Patients cannot consume medical marijuana in public.
Patients and caregivers may possess up to a one-month supply, as determined by their physician, of non-smokable cannabis in a form recommended by their physician.
Is home cultivation allowed in Louisiana?
Home cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Louisiana.
Medical marijuana registry
There is no formal medical marijuana registry in Louisiana. Physicians recommending medical cannabis send an order directly to the nearest permitted pharmacy. All cannabis sales are tracked through the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System.
With the passage of HB 819 in 2020, physicians can recommend cannabis for any debilitating condition if they believe the patient will benefit from it. The state does still keep a list of qualifying conditions though.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia or sickle cell disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Hospice or palliative care
- Huntington’s disease
- Intractable pain
- Lewy-body dementia
- Motor-neuron disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure disorders
- Severe muscle spasms
- Spastic quadriplegia
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Traumatic brain injury
Patients may receive a medical marijuana recommendation in the course of a bona fide patient-physician relationship, wherein their physician conducts an in-person examination, creates and maintains medical records, and is responsible for the ongoing care and treatment of the patient’s qualifying debilitating medical condition. Only Louisiana residents are eligible.
Information for caregivers
Louisiana law only allows caregivers if the patient is a minor diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and the caregiver is the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
Louisiana laws do not permit reciprocity for patients who hold a medical marijuana card from another state. Patients must be a Louisiana resident to receive a recommendation and obtain medical cannabis.
Each batch of cannabis produced in the state must be tested by an LDAF-approved lab. Random samples from each batch are tested for:
- Active ingredients (THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA) and potency
- Heavy metals
- Microbiological contaminants
- Residual solvents
Products can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose.