Medical marijuana has gained popularity nationwide for its potential therapeutic benefits. From helping ease pain to alleviating mental stress, many praise it as an alternative to chemical-laden medication. Are you a Louisana resident considering medical marijuana, its potential capabilities, the laws behind legal use, and how to get a recommendation from a licensed professional? The Transformative Health Center is here to help. Learn all you need to know with our 2023 Official Guide to Medical Marijuana in Louisiana.
What Is Medical Marijuana, and Why Is It Used?
Medical marijuana is a term used to describe the use of the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant and its basic extracts as a potential means of relief from a variety of symptoms and conditions. The marijuana plant contains hundreds of chemicals, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are believed to have potential therapeutic benefits.
CBD and THC can have different effects on the body, depending on the ratio of each within the medical marijuana product. The patient’s unique physiology can also affect its potency. Some types of medical marijuana have higher levels of CBD which is believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Medical marijuana with lower levels of THC—the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use—may be more effective against chronic pain and inflammation.
Other types of medical marijuana have higher levels of THC, which some believe supports anxiety relief, improving sleep, and enhancing mood. However, these types may also have more pronounced psychoactive effects, which can be undesirable for certain individuals.
How is Medical Marijuana Made?
There are several ways to extract the active ingredients in marijuana, including CBD and THC, to create medical marijuana products. Some of the most common methods include:
- CO2 Extraction. Supercritical CO2, which has both liquid and gas properties, is passed through the plant material under high pressure. This separates the active ingredients from the plant material. The resulting extract is then purified to remove any remaining plant material.
- Solvent Extraction. A solvent, such as ethanol or butane, is mixed with the plant material, causing the active ingredients to dissolve and separate from the plant material. This is then purified to remove any remaining solvent and plant material.
- Water Extraction. The plant material is soaked in water and agitated to extract the active ingredients. The resulting extract is then filtered to remove any remaining plant material.
Once extracted, the active ingredients can be used to create a variety of medical marijuana products, such as capsules, tinctures, oils, sprays, and edibles. Medical marijuana products can be made from different strains of the marijuana plant, each of which may have a unique balance of CBD, THC, and other chemicals that can affect its potential therapeutic effects. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best type and dosage of medical marijuana for your specific needs.
Louisiana Laws on Medical Marijuana Usage
Marijuana has been a topic of conversation in Louisiana legislature since 1978, but it was not legalized for medical usage until 2019. To become a state-registered medical marijuana patient, individuals with a qualifying condition must first receive an evaluation from a healthcare professional to confirm their needs. Then, the licensed provider will submit the patient’s recommendation to their nearest dispensary or pharmacy.
Currently, there are 10 licensed pharmacies and dispensaries throughout the state where patients with qualifying conditions can purchase therapeutic medical marijuana products. State-registered patients with a medical marijuana recommendation may enter these locations to legally obtain flower, tinctures, chewables, edibles, infused creams or oils, and metered-dose inhalers.
Legally Qualifying Conditions
Louisiana law permits the recommendation of raw or crude medical marijuana for therapeutic use in conjunction with over 30 “debilitating medical conditions.” These conditions include:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Pain Conditions
- Crohn’s Disease
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- And many more
How Can Patients Obtain a Medical Marijuana Recommendation?
To apply for and be granted a Louisiana marijuana medical marijuana recommendation, you must first complete a professional evaluation. During this one-on-one or virtual consultation with a healthcare provider, you will discuss your qualifications. Your doctor will evaluate your health concerns and determine if medical marijuana is safe and recommended for use in conjunction with your condition.
If your doctor deems you a qualified candidate for medical marijuana, you can become eligible for one year of recommendations to your local Louisiana dispensary. After this year, you may schedule a follow-up appointment for renewal.
How Can You Prepare for Your Evaluation?
Before your evaluation, make sure to gather copies of medical records from your primary or past physicians. These documents should prove and justify the qualifying condition for which you are seeking a medical marijuana recommendation. You must also provide proof of residence and identity such as a state license or birth certificate.
Traveling and Medical Marijuana Use
If you use medical marijuana and are planning to travel out of Louisiana, what are the rules for traveling with medical marijuana products or purchasing them in the state of destination? Here are a few tips to help you travel safely and compliantly.
Travel Tip #1: Traveling out of Louisiana in possession of medical marijuana can pose several challenges. Some forms of public transit limit or legally prohibit you from commuting with medical marijuana, so it is often best to leave your products at home.
Travel Tip #2: If you are traveling to a state where medical marijuana is legalized and plan on purchasing marijuana products, you may have to undergo an evaluation for out-of-state licensure. Before your trip, read up on state reciprocity programs to learn if you are eligible for an out-of-state patient license.
Travel Tip #3: Even if you are using medical marijuana legally within the destination state, remember that you should never drive after use! Medical marijuana can impair your driving capabilities and be punishable by law if found in your vehicle. Save your usage for your time at home or plan to travel by foot.
Louisiana Reciprocity Laws
While Louisiana does not currently extend reciprocity or temporary licenses to out-of-state visitors, this may change with pending legislation. Should House Bill 125 and House Bill 137 pass, nonresidents may access medical marijuana in Louisiana as well as gain legal protections from prosecution.
Could You Benefit from Medical Marijuana in Louisiana?
Do you have a qualifying condition and want to learn more about the potential benefits of medical marijuana? Get in touch with the knowledgeable representatives at Transformative Health Center. We are dedicated to delivering compassionate care to each patient. And, we help qualifying candidates find access to medical marijuana.
If you are interested in a medical marijuana evaluation, schedule an appointment with us today. We offer same-day appointments in-person or online. Or if you have questions about medical marijuana, your eligibility, or our services, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 225-888-4041 or reach out by message.