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Sept. 9, 2018: More Bayou dispensaries; Veterans Request More Medical Marijuana Research; New York Seeks Public Input on Legalization

Louisiana cultivates its ninth medical marijuana pharmacy; the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs secretary gets a bipartisan request to research marijuana as an alternative to opioids; New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo rolls out a series of “listening sessions” on legalization.

Louisiana Cultivates Medical Marijuana Pharmacies

Louisiana’s medical marijuana program is finally taking shape. First signed into law by Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1978, the state’s first medical marijuana bill was authored by Democratic Sen. Tony Guarisco and proposed allowing patients with glaucoma and cancer to use medical marijuana. The law languished as physicians feared they would lose their licenses if they recommended federally illegal medicinal cannabis. Now, decades later, the passage of Senate Bill 143, House Bill 579, and House Bill 627 have dramatically increased the list of qualifying conditions for and access to medical marijuana in the Bayou State.

While prescribed pharmaceuticals in Louisiana are typically exempted from state sales tax, that won’t be the case for medical marijuana. Viewed as a potential economic windfall for the state’s coffers, the Louisiana Cannabis Association reports the estimated medical marijuana market could generate $387 million for the state’s economy – but should It?

Broken down into geographical regions, nine of the state’s 10 permissible pharmacies are expected to offer medical marijuana products for qualified patients by the end of September 2018, according to ABC’s KTBS 3.  

Authorized Louisiana Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:

  • H & W Drug Store, Inc. 4718 Paris Avenue, New Orleans LA 70122-2553
  • Capitol Wellness Solutions, 7491 Picardy Avenue, Baton Rouge LA 70809-3536
  • Green Leaf Dispensary, 6048 W. Park Avenue, Houma LA 70364-1808
  • The Apothecary Shoppe, 620 Guilbeau Road, Suite A, Lafayette LA 70506-8709
  • Medicis, 1727 Imperial Blvd., Building 4, Lake Charles LA 70605-5362
  • The Pill Box Pharmacy #003, 403 Bolton Avenue, Alexandria LA 71301-7026
  • Hope Pharmacy, 1410 Kings Highway, Suite A, Shreveport LA 71103-4227
  • Delta Medmar, 111 McMillan Road, West Monroe LA 71291-5319
  • Willow Pharmacy, 1519 Highway 22 West, Suite 5, Madisonville LA 70447-9489

High taxes for recreational marijuana — that’s one thing. But taxing people for their medicine is nothing short of unconscionable. Faced with a $648 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2018, elected officials should be restricted from utilizing any medical marijuana tax as a potential solution to their financial malfeasance.

VA Secretary Gets Bipartisan Request to Research Marijuana

A bipartisan group of elected officials dispatched a letter August 30, 2018, requesting the new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs investigate medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for opioids. Calling for a “rigorous clinical trial” of the plant’s medicinal efficacy and safety, Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz joined Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan and Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, who was sworn into office on July 30, 2018. The secretary’s as-yet-unknown position on medical marijuana for veterans remains a high-priority question for many, according to a report in Stars and Stripes.

Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition told Stars and Stripes, “I think this is an opportunity to get him on the record and get a more clear understanding of what his perception is about how the VA can conduct cannabis research.”

After making the ultimate sacrifice of risking life and limb for country, doesn’t the VA owe our veterans a modicum of truth via scientific research? In April, Roe and Walz introduced legislation that clarifies the VA’s authority to conduct just such a study.

New York Rolls Out ‘Sessions’ on Marijuana Legalization

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a third term, announced last week that 15, two-hour listening sessions will be open to the public across New York State. They began September 5, 2018, and will be completed by the end of October to gather public input on marijuana legalization from community members and interested stakeholders. The suggestions will assist in the drafting of any legislation to tax and regulate marijuana use for adults.

The sessions are a critical opportunity for constituents to voice their opinions on how to best institute a recreational marijuana market in the Empire State. The list of locations can be found on the state’s website.

Gov. Cuomo’s apparent change of heart likely was motivated by the people in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, where voters opted to embrace the legal use of medical marijuana. Surrounded by reform states and challenged by fellow Democrat Cynthia Nixon, an opponent who supports legalization, the governor could either hop aboard the legalization train or be mowed down by progress.

This Weed in News is Monterey Bud’s weekly column offering his thoughts on the crucial stories of the week. Each Saturday, Monterey Bud recaps the news and tells us why he cares (and why we should, too).

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