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After four years of negotiations, state legislators have now allowed cannabis for medical purposes in Louisiana. The first legal medical cannabis products were purchased on Tuesday by a woman who is fighting cancer and by Gary Hesse, a marine veteran struggling with PTSD. Louisiana is the first state in the Deep South to dispense therapeutic cannabis.
The 41-year-old combat veteran from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, made his purchase at Capitol Wellness Solutions on Tuesday. He said: “It has become a reality to my family this morning, waking up and knowing that I would be able to go home and for the first time in my long struggle, I’ll be able to do this legally in front of my family – that’s incredible,” Gary Hess told reporters before making his purchase.
Only nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical cannabis across Louisiana and they are expected to open this week. The Louisiana State University and Southern University agricultural centres are the only ones authorised to grow medicinal-grade cannabis. More than 30 states allow medical cannabis in some form in the USA and Louisiana has now joined them. Cannabis is banned at the federal level but Congress released a congressional amendment, which blocks the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical cannabis programs.
After the declaration GB Science began the process of shipping medical cannabis to Louisiana’s registered dispensaries, with hundreds of patients lined up for this program.
State Senator Fred Mills, a pharmacist in St. Martin’s Parish who sponsored the medical marijuana law, never thought it would take years for patients to gain access. He said he has repeatedly received “difficult calls” from people with cancer, seizures, and other debilitating conditions, as well as from their family members, asking when cannabis will reach pharmacy shelves. Senator Mills said: “The toughest thing has been not being able to give people a definitive timeline that they could make plans for.”
Pharmacies will set their own price for the products. The insurance won’t be covering the cost of the medicine, so patients will have to pay out of pocket. Mire said that the cost of the medicine at his pharmacy will range from $99 to $200 per product.