Is Cannabis Legal in Louisiana?
Adult-use cannabis is currently illegal in Louisiana.
Patients can qualify for medical cannabis use if they have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and a licensed physician has recommended cannabis. Louisiana patients may obtain cannabis from one of nine pharmacies permitted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
On Aug. 1, 2019, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) announced that the first batch of cannabis medicine was tested and approved for immediate shipment to permitted Louisiana pharmacies. Patients purchased medical marijuana for the first time in Louisiana on August 6, 2019.
In 2016, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 271, which at the time made Louisiana the first state in the Southeastern United States to create a comprehensive medical cannabis program. However, the state had delayed implementation several times because of legislative changes, supply availability, and a lack of testing laboratories. The bill replaced language in the medical marijuana law that stated that physicians must “prescribe” medical marijuana to patients, which was impossible because marijuana is considered as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. Physicians can only recommend cannabis to a patient.
The law mandates that medical marijuana must be produced by a single cultivator and distributed to patients through up to 10 pharmacies. Edwards in June 2018 signed HB 579 and HB 627, which expanded the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners in September 2018 eliminated a rule that had restricted Louisiana doctors licensed under the state’s medical marijuana program to treat up to 100 patients. The board also agreed to remove a restriction that would have required patients to see their doctor every 90 days to renew their order for medical cannabis.
The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners oversees the state’s medical marijuana program and distributes physician permits to recommend medical marijuana. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry oversees regulations governing the cultivation and processing of cannabis. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy is responsible for licensing dispensing facilities.
to Be to Consume?
Louisiana patients can purchase medical marijuana products from one of nine permitted pharmacies, which are distributed into regions throughout the state and licensed by the Louisiana Pharmacy Board. Recommended doses and purchased amounts of cannabis are recorded and monitored in the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System.
Typically, a recommending physician will send the order and cannabis type to the closest pharmacy, who will in turn inform patients when their medicine is ready for pickup. Patients may purchase up to a 30-day supply of cannabis. Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance and is exempted from Louisiana sales tax.
Louisiana pharmacies can sell cannabis procured from only one of two growing facilities, both in Baton Rouge, licensed by the LDAF: Louisiana State University in partnership with GB Sciences, and Southern University in partnership with Ilera Holistic Healthcare.
Acceptable forms of medical marijuana include oils, extracts, tinctures, sprays, capsules, pills, solutions, suspension, gelatin-based gummies, lotions, transdermal patches, and suppositories. Raw cannabis materials are illegal for possession and consumption.
Patients cannot consume medical marijuana in public.
Patients and caregivers may possess up to a 30-day supply of non-smokable cannabis, in a form recommended by their physician.
Patients, caregivers, and parents or guardians of a minor patient in possession of medical marijuana are protected from prosecution for the possession or distribution of marijuana.
Patients and caregivers who knowingly possess more than a 30-day supply of medical marijuana face sentences of up to six months of incarceration and a $500 fine for a first offense.
Home cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Louisiana.
Medical Marijuana Registry
There is no formalized medical marijuana registry in Louisiana. Physicians recommending medical cannabis will send an order directly to the nearest permitted pharmacy. All cannabis sold is tracked through the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Tracking System.
The following conditions qualify a Louisiana patient for medical cannabis use:
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Intractable pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure disorders
- Severe muscle spasms
- Spastic quadriplegia
- Some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (to recommend to minors, a recommending physician must consult with a pediatric subspecialist)
Patients may receive a therapeutic 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. Patients must be a Louisiana resident to receive a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana use.
Information for Caregivers
Louisiana law permits caregivers to purchase cannabis on behalf of a patient only if the patient is a minor diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and the caregiver is the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
Information for Providers
Physicians licensed by the Louisiana State Medical Board (LSMB) and who reside in Louisiana may recommend medical marijuana to patients clinically diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. To recommend medical marijuana, physicians must complete a course and submit an application and fee to obtain a permit from the LSMB.
When a physician determines that a patient has a qualifying medical condition, the physician must send a recommendation directly to the medical marijuana pharmacy closest to the patient’s residence.
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.
In SB 271, regulators required the LDAF to draft requirements for independent lab testing of medical marijuana products. As of August 2019, no facilities have passed inspection, therefore the LDAF is currently conducting all medical marijuana testing itself.
Licensing for Growers, Manufacturers, Processors, Retailers, Delivery
The LBP regulates the pharmacies permitted to sell medical marijuana to patients with a valid recommendation. Only nine pharmacies are currently licensed, with the option to add a tenth in high-demand regions available in the future.
CBD and Hemp Rules
Following the 2018 Farm Bill, on June 6, 2019, Louisiana passed HB 491 and legalized the sale of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products containing up to 0.3% THC. The Louisiana Department of Health will take an active role in regulating CBD products, including licensing manufacturers and determining labeling requirements.
This page was last updated on September 23, 2019.