Medical marijuana may be available in La. dispensaries as early as next week

Updated: Jul. 29, 2019 at 6:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - After a long wait, medical marijuana may finally be ready for Louisiana patients as early as next week.

Patients who live in the New Orleans metro area should be able to pick up medical marijuana recommendations from the H&W Drug Store, if the product passes the final phase of testing -- which could happen in as soon as seven business days.

H&W owner Ruston Henry said he’s anxious to get medical marijuana for his customers, but also appreciates the care that’s gone into its approval.

“What I’m excited about is the standardization of the product. So once you have a standardized product, then people say ‘Look, I take this much, this let’s me achieve my therapeutic dose that I want,’” Henry said.

H&W dispensary is located in Gentilly’s Oak Park Shopping Center and Henry is one of the nine licensed dispensary owners in the state waiting for medical marijuana to hit their shelves.

"We're anxiously awaiting, and I understand the fact that everybody's waiting for it, but it's more important to get it right than to get it fast," Henry said.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said they’ve received the final product and test results should be completed in a week.

"It's in the bottle, it's in the package, the label is on it. Now, we expect a turn around of about seven days to run all these tests. So hopefully, by the early part of next week we will be moving this product into the pharmacies," Strain said.

He said the bottled samples they're testing will be the same product patients will receive.

“It’s based on a sampling technology so that we can make sure the final product is homogeneous, which means the first vial and the 1,000th vial are the same," Strain said. “We’ll be testing again to confirm the THC and the CBD levels, and to make sure it doesn’t have any bacterial contamination.”

Dr. Victor Chou is licensed to recommend medical marijuana, said now that the product is nearing the finish line, more patients are reaching out to him.

“In the past week or two, I’ve definitely seen and uptick in the number of patients wanting to do consultations,” Chou said.

If it's ready in August, it will mark a year since the product was initially slated to be ready.

“I’m really excited because the timeline, for a long time, has been repeatedly pushed back and back. And you always talk about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I really do see it here, because we’re literally one step away. The final testing of the finished product,” Chou said.

Henry said his business is ready to provide the treatment to patients as soon as it’s been approved.

“Once the product’s ready and we have it in hand, we’re ready to open up,” Henry said.

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