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Cannabis in Louisiana is legal only for medicinal use; recreational possession of 14 grams or less is decriminalized punishable by a fine of no more than $100. Medicinal use is allowed with a physician's written recommendation for any debilitating condition. Prior to statewide decriminalization, possession of small amounts of marijuana was first decriminalized in the cities of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.
Reduction of Criminal Penalties
On June 30, 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed SB 143, which significantly reduced penalties for possession of cannabis. Under the bill, first time possession is punishable by a $300 fine and 15 days in jail, a second offense by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, a third offense by up a $2,500 fine and up to two years in jail, and fourth or subsequent offenses by up to a $5,000 fine and eight years in prison.
On June 15, 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 652 which decriminalized small amounts of marijuana statewide. Under the bill, possession of less than 14 grams of cannabis is punishable by a $100 fine and no threat of jail time for the first and every subsequent offense. The reduced penalties took effect August 1, 2021. Possession of more than 14 grams and illegal distribution still carry harsh penalties.
Medical cannabis (2015-present)
On June 30, 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed HB 149, which sets up a framework for dispensing marijuana for medical purposes. On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, medical cannabis was dispensed in the state for the first time, supplied by cannabis grower GB Sciences.
In August 2020, HB 819, signed by Governor John Bel Edwards, greatly expanded access to medical cannabis. HB 819 allows any licensed doctor in good standing with the state to recommend cannabis for any condition the doctor "considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat."
On June 22, 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law HB 391 which lifts the prohibition on raw/crude and smokable cannabis products effective January 1, 2022. Possession of up to 2.5oz of cannabis flower will be legal for medicinal purposes.
Current Medical Overview
There are currently 9 pharmacies within the state dispensing THC products, one in each state health department region. They are located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lafayette, Monroe, Lake Charles, Alexandria, and Madisonville. A 10th pharmacy license could be issued as needed. Products available include tinctures, creams, distillates, gelatin based chewable, and metered dose inhalers. Raw/crude products including flower are not allowed to be sold in the state until January 1, 2022. Only two growers are licensed to grow cannabis: Wellcana, partnered with LSU and Illera, partnered with Southern University.
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