Patients face further delays in medical marijuana programs

Patients face further delays in medical marijuana programs

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana patients may have to wait awhile to access medical marijuana as the two medical marijuana programs in the state await approval from the officials.

Medical marijuana was originally scheduled to be distributed to the state's licensed dispensaries this past fall. Now, the deadline seems further and further away, keeping patients and dispensaries waiting.

“One of the things that really frustrated us is that you know, we have been told that this product would be available you know, first thing in August, then in November, then in January, and now, February,” Dr. Victor Chou, founder of the Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana, said.

Currently, LSU AgCenter is waiting for results from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry.

The department checks the facility, along with the product itself, for pesticides, heavy metals and microbials like mold or bacteria.

Chou said he’s seen firsthand the effects the delays have on his patients -- some who suffer from terminal illnesses.

“Dozens of people that could have used this treatment in their last months to help them with pain, nausea, vomiting, appetite, and they didn’t have access to it, and they had a horrible last few months to live,” Chou said.

Jacob Irving is a patient who uses medical marijuana to treat his cerebral palsy and is now working with Ilera Holistic Healthcare -- Southern University’s new medical marijuana program.

“It’s frustrating, and I know a lot of people are waiting for medication," Irving said. “As a patient who’s working in the industry and kind of on the ground floor, I understand why the delays are happening, and people are working really hard to try to get it accessible as soon as possible.”

While LSU is further along in its process, Southern University's program expects to have its product ready in the coming year.

"There are a lot of hang ups, there are a lot of issues to figure out, but i'm hopeful that Louisiana's program will produce a true pharmaceutical grade product at the end of the day," Irving said.

LSU officials sent FOX 8 a statement saying they expect their facility to be up and running in January, but don't know when the final product will be available for patients.

FOX 8 reached out to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to find out how far along it is in the process with both universities and what’s causing the delays, but did not get a response.

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