In 2015, medical marijuana was legalized in Louisiana, and from that time changes, revisions in the legislature and other modifications have slowed the implementation of the law. However, starting in November, the sales of medical cannabis will commence all over the state. But the problem is how some patients will gain access to a physician who can give the recommendation needed to have access to one of those dispensaries. Presently, Louisiana has about 31 licensed medical marijuana doctors who can prescribe medical cannabis treatments.
Due to the slow progress in Louisiana medical marijuana legalization process, the Board of Medical Examiners Louisiana has made another move to make it simple for physicians to grant those prescriptions. In a recent discourse in New Orleans, the board carried out a vote to raise the patient-limit cap it had placed on licensed doctors.
Louisiana Raises Follow-Up Requirements and Patient Cap on Recommending Physicians
Before the current 8-1 vote, the State Board of Medical Examiners in Louisiana had placed a limit on the number of medical cannabis patients a prescribing doctor could attend to. In 2016, the cap was set at 100 patients. According to officials, if it was still effective, then the medical cannabis program in Louisiana can only attend to 4,000 patients by November. This is a lesser amount as compared to the 100,000 patients who are required to seek enrollment in the program.
However, lawmakers have recently acknowledged the necessity to raise the patient cap. Moreover, the need is becoming even more pressing as only a small amount of physicians have enrolled in the program. Earlier this summer, the state of Louisiana also included more qualifying conditions, which will possibly attract more patients to seek medical cannabis recommendations.
Thus, voting to eliminate the patient cap is very essential. Moreover, it totally eliminates all limit or restriction on the number of medical cannabis patients a doctor can attend. However, the board also removed other access barriers. During a tighter 5-4 vote, the board also removed follow-up requirements for patients and their physicians. Prior to the vote, patients could only see a physician after 90-days of treatment in order to gain eligibility for a renewal.
Medical Cannabis Groups Plan Campaign to Educate Doctors in Louisiana about Cannabis
Lifting the patient cap is a necessary requirement. However, the other requirement is to bring more physicians into the sector. Yet the young medical cannabis program in Louisiana hasn’t grabbed the attention of the doctors. Only 48 of them have sent applications.
Therefore, many residents in rural areas will have no local access to a medical cannabis recommendation. Louisiana’s medical cannabis industry has addressed this issue by taking the lead. GB Sciences is creating educational programs to increase the number of doctors willing to take part in the program.
The Louisiana State University AgCenter, which has courses on industry-focused programs, is collaborating with GB and the State Board of Medical Examiners to plan informational gatherings with a group of doctors to establish online resources.
Currently, lawmakers, physicians, and the industry are acknowledging the board’s vote to lift the patient cap and follow-up requirements. According to Dr. Les Johnson, a board member, this is a historic moment for the state of Louisiana.