Louisiana’s medical cannabis program was first signed in 2015 and expanded in 2016, as more qualifying conditions were added to the list. The state’ medical cannabis program is being monitored by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, which is authorized to issue licenses to no more than ten existing pharmacies.
As a result, potential entrepreneurs must wait for further changes in the legislation. Until a possible expansion of the program is viable, all cannabis distribution and handling will be done by licensed pharmacies only. The following are the requirements for operating a medical cannabis dispensary in Louisiana.
Legalization in Louisiana
On June 29, 2015, then governor Bobby Jindal signed the re-enaction of the 1991 Alison Neustrom Act via bill SB 143. This bill allows Louisiana’s physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to qualifying patients. At the time the bill was signed, only three medical conditions qualified for medical marijuana possession: spastic quadriplegia, cancer, and glaucoma.
A bill expanding the medical cannabis program was voted on in May of 2016, and as a result, more conditions were added to the list allowing medical cannabis use. The goal of this bill was to speed up distribution and provide patients with quicker access to their medicine.
The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy regulates the state’s dispensary program, which is currently applicable only to existing pharmacies. Cannabis will be grown by a single cultivator in the state. The Louisiana State University and Southern University have the first right of refusal to collaboratively or separately grow medical cannabis.
How Many Dispensaries Operate in the State?
Currently, there are no licensed dispensaries operating in Louisiana. Instead, cannabis products are distributed by licensed pharmacies. The state has limited the number of pharmacies authorized to distribute cannabis products to 10.
What is the State’s Dispensary Market Worth?
Medical cannabis sales are expected to reach $27 million by the year 2021.
Statute (SB 271) that allows ten pharmacies to distribute medical cannabis, as well as one cultivation center. Louisiana’s current medical cannabis law is very restrictive, however.
The final details for the state’s medical cannabis law, are proving very difficult for legislators. For instance, many legislators had trouble understanding how to regulate a product that is still illegal under federal law.
Though the law in Louisiana is very strict, the application process attracted dozens of applicants. Executive director of the state’s Board of Pharmacy Malcolm Broussard, testified that the board anticipates “multiple competitive applications.”
Currently, only pharmacists may distribute cannabis in Louisiana, and it must be grown at a State University. Those wishing to prescribe medical cannabis in the state must pay a five thousand dollar application fee in addition to a $150 licensing fee to become one of the 10 allowed cannabis pharmacists in the state. The five thousand dollar application fee is non-refundable and is only for cannabis pharmacies. It does not apply to regular drug stores.
The following companies can be very helpful for getting your dispensary up and running.
- Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting
- Canna Advisors
- Green Rush Consulting
- Medicine Man Technologies
- Quantum 9 Inc.