BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana’s sickest patients now have access to a pair of new medical marijuana products that are essentially twice as strong as the medicine that’s been available since the program began in August.
The new tinctures have a higher concentration of THC, the psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant that can help relieve pain or anxiety.
Pharmacists can now recommend one of five different formulas to patients. Each tincture contains a different ratio of THC to CBD, another chemical in the cannabis plant that cannot get a person high but that most experts believe has pain-killing qualities.
“You’re essentially getting two bottles in one (with the new product),” pharmacist TJ Woodard said. “Cancer patients and chronic pain patients just need higher doses.”
The average patient at Baton Rouge’s Capitol Wellness Solutions pharmacy will save around $60 each month because of the new alternatives, pharmacy founder Randy Mire said. A higher concentration of medicine means it takes less product to achieve desired results, like taking a single extra-strength painkiller instead of two low-dose pills.
In other words, patients won’t have to burn through their vials as quickly because each drop of new medicine will be stronger than the original sister formulas.
“We’ve always known that adding more products would bring the costs down in the industry and increase access to the program,” Mire said. “We have new requests every day.”
The state’s licensed grower, Wellcana, says patients requested the new formula.
“There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we’ve expanded,” Wellcana CEO John Davis said. “What is the patient feeling? What’s working? What’s not working? This goes back to the basic medicine and the basic relationship with patients we’re trying to focus on.”
Wellcana expects to add the first alternative methods of delivery to the droppers in the early summer, when edible ‘gummies’ and topical ointments should be available. Strips that dissolve on the tongue will follow soon after.
Medical marijuana can be recommended by a licensed marijuana doctor to treat one of 16 serious health conditions. Eight months after the program opened to the public, Davis says the average Louisiana medical marijuana user is in their mid-50′s with two or more serious medical conditions.
The average patient is also, more than likely, a woman. Woodard and Mire said most of their customers have no prior experience with recreational or medicinal marijuana.
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