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LA Lawmakers Press AG Commissioner On Slow Medical Marijuana Rollout

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Medical marijuana products are taking longer for approval causing product delays and shortages at dispensaries.

LA POT EXPANSION — Louisiana first enacted therapeutic marijuana legislation way back in 1978 but it wasn’t until the year 2020 when lawmakers finally approved medicinal marijuana for limited use. Since then Governor John Bel Edwards and lawmakers have approved new laws expanding the medical marijuana products available and the ability for doctors to recommend the drug for any illness. But there have been some drawbacks as dispensaries complain they can’t get enough product for approved patients because of regulatory hold-ups. Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain came under fire yesterday from state lawmakers who complained his regulatory agency was moving too slowly in expanding the medical marijuana products available to patients. In his defense, Strain told the legislative medical marijuana commission that his department follows strict guidelines in product testing and won’t compromise public safety to fast-track new products.

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La.gov
Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain addresses legislative medical marijuana commission on 11.18.21.

"We are charged in continuing that act and others under the rules specified by the state, provide rules and regulations to make sure that the product is made in the strictest of fashion to make sure that at the end of the day, that the patient gets a pharmaceutical-grade product that is safe," Strain explained.

Strain was referring to state and federal guidelines as well as funding for testing. But lawmakers expressed that Louisiana’s medical marijuana rollout is not ideal as reflected by Representative Joseph Marino’s comments.

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La.gov
Louisiana Rep. Joseph Marino (I) of Gretna

"Nobody around the other 37 states that operate medical marijuana programs is looking to Louisiana as best practices," Morino said.

The net result of slow medicinal marijuana product roll-out has created a market supply-demand issue increasing the cost of products to patients when they can get them. The commission said they will continue to meet to find ways to address the pace of testing and approval of new products.