Doctors and patients say Louisiana’s medical marijuana program needs drastic improvement

Doctors and patients say Louisiana's medical marijuana program needs drastic improvement
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:19 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After a long fight to get medical marijuana in Louisiana, some patients are saying the people who need it can’t afford it. But, there could be help on the way at the first of the year.

As of January, patients prescribed medical marijuana will be able to choose smokable marijuana as their treatment. But, according to doctors and patients speaking out, there are still several things that need to be worked out.

Louisiana is still in its developing stages of its medical marijuana program. When compared to programs in other states, Louisiana is behind the 8-ball. To kick off Thursday’s commission meeting, they played a clip of beloved Saints legend Steve Gleason from their last meeting. Gleason uses medical marijuana to help with his ALS.

“This new solution helped me get off prescription pills completely. I felt good physically, and my head was much clearer,” said Gleason.

The focus of the meeting was to hear about the current relationship between doctors that prescribe the drug and their patients.

“And we did hear a good bit from the doctors and patients about how we can improve the program,” said Representative Joseph Marino (I).

As chairman of the commission, Rep. Marino from Gretna wanted to know what specific barriers doctors and physicians keep running into.

“Access is a big problem, cost is a huge problem,” said Dr. Jody Plaisance.

“I think if you got more people providing it, competition would push the prices down. I mean it would be almost impossible for it not to,” Rep. Marino explained.

Three patients attended the meeting to back up what the doctors had to say. Angela Broussard said she has to live with her elderly mother to help pay for the cost of her own medication.

“We’ve already heard from physicians saying that patients spending more than a house note. I can attest to that. My medical marijuana expense runs anywhere from $1,300 to $1,500 a month...yea, you heard that right,” said Broussard.

Another issue patients had was the small range of products to choose from. The smokeable version is expected to be much cheaper.

“There’s a lack of diversity in products. The products that they did have that were available for me was a $70 cartridge that would cost anywhere between $35 and $50 max in other state medical programs,” said Jada Durden, who’s also a patient.

The commission said the next meeting will be sometime in December. They plan to look at the other 37 states that have medical marijuana programs, compare theirs to ours and see what they are doing better. The smokable form of marijuana will be available from any of nine dispensaries around the state starting in January.

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