Louisiana’s Medical ...

Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Law Amended Effective August 1, 2022

August 30, 2022 | by Scott Keaty

Pursuant to Louisiana’s medical marijuana law, referred to as the “Alison Neustrom Act” or the “Act”,[1] (1) Louisiana physicians who are registered to do so with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners may recommend (but not prescribe) certain forms of cannabis for therapeutic use (“medical marijuana”) to patients with certain debilitating conditions, (2) patients must fulfill these recommendations at a pharmacy holding one of ten primary medical marijuana pharmacy permits issued by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, and (3) medical marijuana dispensed by permitted pharmacies must be produced by either Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (“LSU”) or Southern University Agricultural Center (“Southern University”). Recent amendments to the Act authorize issuance of additional medical marijuana pharmacy permits and transition oversight of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Additional Medical Marijuana Pharmacy Permits Authorized

To date, the Board of Pharmacy has issued nine primary medical marijuana permits to pharmacies located in nine separate geographic regions of Louisiana. Effective August 1, 2022, amendments to the Act now require the Board of Pharmacy to issue:

  • the tenth primary medical marijuana permit to a pharmacy located in the geographic region composed of the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard; and
  • a satellite medical marijuana permit to any holder of a primary medical marijuana pharmacy permit authorizing the pharmacy to (a) open a separate satellite location in its geographic region if the pharmacy’s original location serves more than 3,500 active, qualified patients[2] and (b) on or after August 1, 2023, open a second separate satellite location in its geographic region if the pharmacy’s original location and the first satellite location each serve more than 3,500 active qualified patients.

Note that a pharmacy holding a primary medical marijuana permit cannot open more than two satellite locations in its geographic region under any circumstance. Note also that if a pharmacy declines to open a second satellite location (when otherwise entitled to do so), the Board of Pharmacy may issue a single, additional medical marijuana pharmacy permit to a separate pharmacy in the applicable geographic region authorizing the separate pharmacy to open a single marijuana pharmacy location in lieu of the original permittee’s second satellite location in that region.

Applications for the tenth primary pharmacy permit and the separate satellite medical marijuana permits are available here. The Board of Pharmacy has not yet issued the application for an additional medical marijuana permit should a pharmacy decline to open a second satellite location when otherwise entitled to do so.

The LDOH Now Oversees Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program

The recent amendments to the Act also transition the oversight of the manufacture and distribution of medicinal marijuana in Louisiana from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to the Louisiana Department of Health (the “LDOH”). On August 1, 2022, the LDOH issued an Emergency Rule providing, among other things, that (1) the LDOH will issue a nontransferable license to LSU and Southern  University to produce medical marijuana, renewable annually on July 1, (2) LSU and Southern University may each only contract with a single permittee to engage in growing, cultivating, processing, transporting, and distributing medical marijuana on behalf of LSU and Southern University, and (3) the LDOH will issue a nontransferable permit to such a permittee, renewable annually on July 1.

The LDOH’s August 1, 2022 Emergency Rule will remain in effect for 180 days or until the LDOH promulgates its Final Rule, if earlier. We will report on the substance of the Final Rule upon its issuance.

[1] See La. R.S. 40:1046 and, pursuant to recent amendments, La. R.S. 40:1046.1-.3.

[2] An “active, qualified patient” means a patient that has acquired a medical marijuana product at least once in the preceding twelve-month period of August 1 through July 31.