There’s a saying that things in the South move at their own pace. Such is the case with medical marijuana in Louisiana, it seems. In 2015, both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Senate voted to pass medical marijuana legislation — again.
Louisiana legislators approved medical marijuana twice before — in 1978 with Act No. 725, and again in 1991 with HB 1112, called the “Louisiana Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act,” which amended the 1978 act. But both pieces of legislation failed to create a functional regulatory framework for cultivation and dispensing, and the program never got off the ground.
The 2014 effort to establish a framework around medical marijuana in Louisiana faced heavy opposition from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and Buddy Caldwell, the state’s attorney general. Caldwell testified against Senate Bill 541, which died in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee by a vote of 6-2. It was reported that Caldwell hadn’t even read the bill in its entirety.
“It’s troubling that the attorney general of the state of Louisiana didn’t study the bill but with the clout he has, (swayed votes) against it,” the bill’s sponsor Sen. Fred Mills told The Times-Picayune in April 2014.
It wasn’t until the Louisiana House and Senate took action to approve a comprehensive bill, also sponsored by Mills, in 2015 that the state’s medical marijuana conversation began in earnest. A 2015 Louisiana State University (LSU) study found that 60 percent of respondents in the state-supported medical use of marijuana at the time.
On June 29, 2015, then-Governor Bobby Jindal quietly signed Senate Bill 143 and House Bill 149 to provide access to medical marijuana for those with chronic or terminal illness and amend penalties for cannabis possession. But without a regulatory framework, people were still left asking “is medical marijuana legal