The History of Marijuana in Louisiana

Louisiana is known for having some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country, with a punishment of six months in jail for possession of just a single joint. The majority of the state disagrees with this though, as over half of Louisiana’s citizens support legalizing marijuana. The state is also a leader in marijuana legalization though, as it became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1978. That year  Senator Tony Guarisco sponsored the bill to legalize medical marijuana, which Governor Edwin Edwards signed into law. The law granted medical marijuana access to only patients with glaucoma and undergoing chemotherapy cancer treatment, but due to the language of the bill, patients couldn’t receive their medicine.

This law also created the Marijuana Prescription Review Board, which failed because the Department of Health and Human Services neglected to contract the national groups for the product and distribution. By 1991, a new medical marijuana law was introduced to include spastic quadriplegia on the list of qualifying conditions. The Health Department actually wrote rules implementing the law, but there was an issue with the language again, “[The rules] neither legalized nor gave the (health department) authority to address several other components that would be necessary to provide access to medical marijuana.” The state and its legislators are now fighting to gain support to expand the medical marijuana program.  


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