Accessibility to Louisiana marijuana prescription medicine continues to be a contentious political issue within the state. Although medical marijuana has been legalized for use in certain circumstances, there continues to be disagreement over what those circumstances should be. 

This issue has caused state senators and the state medical board to clash in recent weeks. And, the outcome of these discussions could affect how patients receive recommendations for medical marijuana. Learn how this legislation and its interpretation by the state medical board could change the way medical marijuana evaluations are performed in Louisiana. 

Disagreements About Marijuana Laws Could Bring Changes

The main point of contention between the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LBSE) focuses on how evaluations are performed. According to Act No. 491:

Nothing in this Part shall be construed or enforced in any manner that prevents a physician authorized by Subsection A of this Section to recommend therapeutic marijuana from recommending therapeutic marijuana through telemedicine, as defined in R.S. 37:1262, in this state.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee explained that the intent behind this portion of the legislation was to keep evaluations available to patients via telemedicine. These evaluations have been conducted over the phone and the internet in Louisiana, making the process more widely accessible.

However, the LBSE has interpreted the statute differently from what some on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee claim to be its intended purpose. While testifying before the committee, LBSE Executive Counsel Patricia Wilton stated that telemedicine has its own specific requirements.

“Where the problem comes is that telemedicine is in Title 37, and telemedicine is in an entirely different body of law,” Wilton said. “Telemedicine encompasses many statutory requirements.” 

According to Wilton, a preexisting statute states that a physician cannot prescribe a dangerous controlled substance to a patient unless that patient has undergone an in-person evaluation. Wilton argues that this legislation prevents the use of telemedicine for Louisiana marijuana prescription evaluations.

Will Louisiana Marijuana Prescription Laws be Protected?

In Louisiana, physicians do not provide patients with a prescription for medical marijuana use. Instead, they can offer recommendations, which, while different, function similarly to prescriptions for patients. This difference in classification may raise questions as to whether legislation regulating medical recommendations versus prescriptions could further complicate the issue. 

Legislators argued that the intent of the law is clear. However, Wilton told legislators that the LBSE must comply with what is written in the legislation, not the intent. Wilton recommended that state legislators pass another law that removes the requirement for an in-person evaluation to solve the issue with Title 37.  However, Senator Jay Luneau of Alexandria accused the LBSE of attempting to “thwart” legislation through its own interpretations of the law.

Evaluations May Be Limited to In-Person Visits

Issues regarding telemedicine and medical marijuana remain unclear. And patients may need to rely on in-person evaluations at some point in the future. In addition to telemedicine, Transformative Health Center also provides in-person evaluations to determine whether patients may benefit from medical marijuana. If you believe you have a condition that may qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation, don’t wait. Simply schedule an appointment with us at the time that works best for your schedule. We’re committed to your health.