Louisiana lawmakers setting the stage for medical marijuana expansion debate

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 4:09 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ahead of the 2023 state legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers are poised to debate two bills that would expand marijuana access across the state.

The medical marijuana market is growing in Metairie. H&W opened a second location filling prescriptions; all products regulated under state laws.

“A kid who is having problems with autism or somebody who is having pain, or PTSD, or anxiety, you know you are getting the same dosage each and every time,” said H&W Drug Store pharmacist and CEO Ruston Henry. “When you’re getting from other sources, you don’t know what you’re getting.”

But is the state ready to open the gates beyond medicinal use?

State representative Candace Newell is proposing two bills to the House this session. HB 17 would expand the use, production, and selling of recreational marijuana. HB 24 would decriminalize possession and distribution and establish a tax on the sales.

“Louisiana is a majority conservative state. The legislature is getting more conservative, so they’re not going to be eager for full legalization of recreational marijuana,” said Fox 8 political analyst Mike Sherman. “But societal norms are sure changing and we are seeing that in more and more legislation getting closer to passage each session.”

State Rep. Kyle Green, a democrat representing Jefferson Parish, says he looks forward to debating Newell’s bills and voting in favor of them should they reach the House floor. He says that would then open a conversation about expanding the market even further.

“You would have an increased demand, so it would be hard for me not to see a situation where we wouldn’t see an increase in the licenses or growers of marijuana,” said Green.

Sherman says Louisiana falling under the medicinal category is a progressive shock in itself.

Governor John Bel Edwards and most lawmakers have opposed efforts to legalize recreational marijuana.

THC products sold as Delta-8 are another issue likely to come up this legislative session. According to our partners at the Louisiana Illuminator, the governor says residents will see a clampdown on those products that may have been made legal accidentally with law regarding hemp.

The 2023 Regular Legislative Session begins Mon., April 10.

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