Louisiana’s patients were able to temporarily access medical cannabis through telemedicine appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now a lawmaker is urging the state’s attorney general to make this change permanent.
State Rep. Joseph Marino, I-Gretna, wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Landry, saying that the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Commission, on which Marino serves as a member, met in September to review state law regarding medical cannabis prescriptions, according to a local WDSU report.
New Orleans-based Dr. Vincent Culotta said that based on the way the law is written, an in-person visit is required for doctors to prescribe controlled substances to patients, and Culotta interprets this to also apply to medical cannabis, the news outlet reported. The commission then tried to pass an emergency rule to exempt medical cannabis from the rule requiring in-person doctor visits, but it was ultimately rejected, according to WDSU.
Now, Marino is calling on Landry to issue an opinion on the law. He said in his letter that not allowing patients to access medical cannabis through telemedicine appointments might have a “chilling effect” on Louisiana’s program, WDSU reported.
Recent tweaks to the state’s medical cannabis laws took effect Aug. 1, including a change that transferred oversight of Louisiana’s medical cannabis program from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to the Department of Health.
Another change increased the number of dispensaries in the state from nine to a maximum number of 30 retail locations.
Louisiana initially launched medical cannabis sales in 2019 and expanded the program at the beginning of 2022 to allow patients to access smokable flower.