Medical marijuana industry could see increase with bill expansions

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, Parkinson's. Those are a few more of the conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana included in two state Senate bills.

For the first time, a marijuana convention settled into the Convention Center. Between equipment, candies and greenhouses, coordinators say it's a business-boosting convention.

This Gentilly location is one of the 90 future medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Marijuana industry experts say already expanding the number of people who would qualify for medicinal marijuana could potentially speed up the need for more licenses.

Chris Walsh, a marijuana business executive, says people should remember what more licenses could bring to the state if the industry is successful.

"You'll see an increase in the business opportunities, and it's not just about growing and selling the plant," he said. "There's a whole other system of ecosystem of types of program and services."

The amendments to the bills would include conditions like glaucoma, muscle spasms, PTSD, Parkinson's and some conditions in those with autism.

Sen. Norby Chabert testified on the Senate floor.

"I feel tough calling it an expansion," Chabert said. "In my opinion, it takes care of conditions being in there in the first place."

While both bills passed the Senate and head back for final House approval, there are some who believe making expansions to a program just beginning here is premature.

"It's against the federal law; it's not in the law to grow marijuana or do any of this at this point in time," said Sen. Francis Thompson.

Business owners say they've already jumped at the opportunity to stake their claim in the marijuana industry, and when that means spending more money in a local economy, Walsh says it's nothing to turn your nose up at.

"It isn't a demon drugs and its meant for people with medical conditions that need help easing their pain," Walsh said.

The bill amendments also included lines about worker's comp. An employee could not be prescribed medical marijuana in a worker's comp case.

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