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La. Medical Marijuana Program Allows More Patient Access

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

LA MEDICAL POT:   It’s been three years since the Louisiana Legislature approved medical marijuana as a treatment option for certain health conditions. University agriculture centers are growing the plants to  be processed into oils, edibles or pills and will be available to patients this year. A previous rule by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners limited doctors to recommending medical marijuana to just 100 patients each.  However less than 50 La. doctors applied to be allowed to recommend the drug to patients.   Fearing that too few eligible patients would have access to medical marijuana,  the cap was lifted.

Dr. Victor Chou owns a medical marijuana clinic in Baton Rouge. He explained some of his experience to Public Radio WRKF.

"So literally within two weeks of opening my clinic  I had already signed up my first 100 patients. Everyone after that unfortunately had to go on a waiting list.  And at one point in time on my waiting list, I got to close to 700  patients."

Credit Courtesy: La. Radio Network
Courtesy: La. Radio Network
Dr. Victor Chou appeared before the La. State Medical Examiners hearing this month to speak on patient limits.

Dr. Chou stressed that restricting the number of medical marijuana  patients a doctor could treat encroached upon physician ethics.

"We as doctors, we feel we have an ethical obligation to do the very best for every single one of our patients. And if you're restricted to only providing this treatment to 100 patients, you're put into a very sticky situation of having to decide amongst your-perhaps thousands of - patients, who are the 'lucky hundred' that get this treatment. And as doctors, we don't like to be put into that type of situation."

The number of Louisiana patients  who could qualify has grown to about 100,000, after the Legislature expanded the program to include medical conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Eligible patients are expected to have access to medical marijuana as soon as November.


Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.