NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Deemed essential throughout the pandemic, Ruston Henry with H&W Drugs says they have been filling prescriptions, but like most businesses, it’s been slow.
“Medical marijuana and pharmacy has been a challenge during this time,” Henry said.
But with the state pharmacy board allowing dispensaries to now deliver amidst the pandemic, Henry says that’s all the more reason medical marijuana needs to be easier for patients to get.
“It’s essential to improve quality-of-life just like blood pressure, diabetes, antibiotics and so forth,” Henry said.
They’re only doing deliveries a couple of times a week, but Henry says he’s encouraged if the Governor signs the new bill, patients could more readily get their medicine.
The republican-sponsored bill would make it so any doctor could recommend the drug, as long as they're in good standing with the Louisiana medical board. Doctors now have to register with the board first for a license to prescribe.
“This dispels some of the stigma from the patients and the doctors saying ‘hey, look who better to ascertain your physical condition other than a physician’,” Henry said.
“We need to make medical marijuana no different than any other medication, why have we put the stigma to it,” Dr. Chad Domangue said.
But in expanding medical marijuana in the state, Domangue says there are already enough prescribing doctors.
“This is not going to fix the problem with medical marijuana,” Domangue said.
Domangue regularly treats patients taking medical marijuana. He also treats patients taking much more powerful and addictive opioids.
He says one of the biggest driving decisions when choosing between the two is cost, especially when medical marijuana is a cash-only drug not covered by insurance.
“The biggest thing making it affordable, making it so a patient I see in pain where I can give them 90 percocet and they can go under their insurance and pay a five dollar co-pay as opposed to $160 for medical marijuana that’s the hurdle that’s the issue,” Domangue said.
He says while it’s a step to expand medical marijuana in the state, it’s a small step.
“It’s exciting because it’s showing that legislation and government see this is something we need to make available to everybody,” said Domangue.
Domangue says nationally, marijuana use is at an all-time high as it’s prescribed to treat pain and anxiety two things many people are suffering with during the pandemic.
The bill has passed through the house and through a senate committee.