Colorado Governor Could Mass-Pardon Marijuana Possession Convictions

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is one pen stroke away from having expanded powers to pardon persons in the state with low-level marijuana possession convictions.

The proposed measure is the result of an amendment to a bill approved by Colorado’s General Assembly at the end of this legislative session. The bill, HB 1424, would expand access to the state’s cannabis industry for people of color. The amendment, put forward by Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), would allow the governor to mass-pardon possession convictions of 2 ounces or less of cannabis, without the input of the District Attorney or the judge concerned with the particular case.

The main provisions in the bill would remove restrictions on individuals with past cannabis convictions from applying for a marijuana industry license. Another would give higher priority for marijuana industry licenses to individuals from socially-deprived areas.

Rep. Singer had previously sponsored a standalone bill that would automatically expunge past cannabis convictions, but his plans were scuppered due to the coronavirus outbreak. With Colorado lawmakers largely consumed by the state’s response to COVID-19 – as is the case across the country – and with the 2020 legislative session coming to a close, Singer decided to try and insert an expungement amendment onto the bill concerning social equity in the marijuana industry.

“When we talk about a business licensing and equity model, we need to be thinking about people left behind in the War on Drugs,” Singer said. “There are people who are still paying for their crimes that are now legal and constitutional.”

“As someone that ended up making a lot of their career in the legislature on everything from helping people struggling with substance abuse to creating the legal marijuana industry as we know it now, this is the biggest blind spot,” he said.

The amendment was approved by the conference committee with one addition: that the governor can consult with others about pardons if he or she wishes to.

The inclusion of an expungement amendment to a bill concerned with social equity in Colorado’s marijuana industry was not universally welcomed. Rep. Matt Soper, (R-Delta), withdrew as a sponsor of the bill citing his disapproval with the process under which the amendment was added, rather than the content of the proposal itself.

“It shifted from a marijuana business licensing bill to becoming a criminal justice bill concerning mass expungement and record sealing for an entire class of offenders,” Soper said.

Under legislation passed in 2017, individuals with misdemeanor marijuana convictions can petition the courts to seal their records. The new proposal would allow the governor to do this unilaterally. Gov. Jared Polis is thought to be supportive of the initiative but his spokesperson, Conor Cahill, declined to confirm whether or not the governor would sign the bill into law.

“The Governor is happy that a meaningful, bipartisan bill addressing marijuana equity passed the legislature and thanks lawmakers for their efforts to get this bill to his desk,” Cahill said.

Read the entire article here.

Louisiana medical marijuana market expected to grow after program changes, but headwinds remain

Louisiana’s medical marijuana market is poised to grow in the wake of new legislation that allows more physicians to authorize the drug for added medical conditions.

But the state’s nascent regulated cannabis sector still faces significant challenges to its business outlook, including:

  • Low patient numbers to date.
  • A limited number of retail outlets, limiting access by geography.
  • Comparatively high prices for available product forms.
  • Constraints on allowable forms of MMJ that prevent the sale of cannabis flower in plant form.

Still, Louisiana medical cannabis retailers and licensed growers told Marijuana Business Daily they’re optimistic the program will improve as it matures, attracting more patients by lowering prices, increasing access and eventually permitting cannabis flower.

Increase in patient numbers expected

Louisiana’s medical marijuana program launched in August 2019, and the Marijuana Business Factbook estimated MMJ sales in the market last year totaled only $1 million-$1.5 million.

For 2020, the Factbook estimates sales between $15 million and $20 million.

Louisiana patients currently need a doctor’s recommendation to buy MMJ products from dispensaries called medical marijuana pharmacies.

But MMJ can be used only for specific medical conditions – and it can be recommended only by physicians explicitly authorized to do so by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.

That will change when Louisiana House Bill 819, signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards on June 15, takes effect in August.

The bill permits any physician in good standing with the board of medical examiners to recommend MMJ for any condition that a doctor considers debilitating to the specific patient.

“This essentially allows every doctor to practice medicine and participate in the program, and it allows every patient to have access to talking with their doctor about whether (medical marijuana) is appropriate for them,” said John Davis, CEO of Louisiana cannabis producer Wellcana.

For now, patient numbers remain low.

Only nine medical marijuana pharmacies are licensed to serve Louisiana’s population of around 4.7 million that’s scattered across nine large regions.

The most recent available figures from the state show those pharmacies served relatively few customers at the outset: Just 4,350 total patients accessed medical marijuana between the program’s launch in August 2019 and the end of that year.

Retailers constrained by regional demographics, high prices

Louisiana’s low patient count suggests “the lion’s share of cannabis medicine in Louisiana is being supplied by the black market,” said David Brown, owner of Willow Pharmacy in Madisonville and former president of Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana.

Brown said his pharmacy serves the highest number of patients in Louisiana, which he attributes in part to the relative affluence of his region in the southeastern sector of the state, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

In other regions with less wealth and fewer physicians recommending medical cannabis, he added, a pharmacy’s business outlook might be less rosy – in the state’s northeast region, he pointed out, the licensed medical marijuana pharmacy is open ony two days a week.

The sheer size of the regions served by each pharmacy also creates a barrier to success, said Kevin Caldwell, co-president of Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana.

“There are many cases, specifically up in northern Louisiana, where a patient would have to take on the undue burden of really traveling a long distance to get to the dispensary,” he said.

Joe Williams, CEO of The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy in the central Louisiana city of Alexandria, hopes the anticipated increase in doctor recommendations “opens up a whole new market for us, with access – but we also know, obviously, that prices are too high.”

Williams’ pharmacy averages about 12 transactions per day for regulated products containing THC.

He said the business is currently breaking even.

“It’s still very disappointing, don’t get me wrong, but I do feel some momentum, and I’ll tell you what’s really been good is (over-the-counter) CBD sales,” Williams said.

“Why? It’s about a third of the price, but more importantly, you don’t have to go through the hassle of going to a doctor … We can’t keep it (in stock) – we’re making $12,000 to $15,000 in profit every month on CBD.”

Limited number of producers

Two state universities hold licenses to produce medical marijuana in Louisiana. Both have contracted operations to private companies.

Wellcana, partnered with Louisiana State University, is the only producer currently selling THC-containing products to medical marijuana pharmacies.

CEO John Davis acknowledged wholesale prices for Wellcana’s tinctures have been high but said his company’s ability to lower prices is constrained by its contract with the university.

Under that agreement, Wellcana’s wholesale prices are based on the company’s cost of goods sold, Davis said.

With low patient numbers limiting the number of completed sales in that equation, he explained, Wellcana’s cost of goods sold is higher than it would be in a mature market.

“We have not sold enough products to remotely get into the black,” Davis added.

“We’re working in the red, and this change in the law that would allow for greater patient access and greater physician participation, we’re anticipating that that is going to allow us to provide an even more affordable product, and array of products, and allow us and (LSU) to hopefully move from the red to the black.”

In fact, Davis told Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate this week that Wellcana is cutting its wholesale prices.

Louisiana’s other cannabis producer, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, is partnered with Southern University.

Ilera currently sells a hemp-derived, over-the-counter CBD product to client pharmacies, but CEO Chanda Macias said the company’s upcoming THC line will be focused on affordability.

The flower question

Wellcana plans to introduce new marijuana product forms, including topicals and buccal strips, later this year.

But Louisiana’s ongoing ban on dried cannabis flower means the market might be failing to capture some potential clients.

A bill proposed this year would have removed the restrictions on allowable forms of medical marijuana to permit flower, but the measure didn’t make it through the legislative session.

“Until we get flower in the state of Louisiana for the patients, then we’re just nibbling around the edges at reform,” Willow Pharmacy’s Brown said.

Ilera’s Macias said she plans to keep lobbying for removal of the flower restriction.

“The forms that we need to expand, to be comparable or, even at this point, surpass, any medical marijuana program in the nation would be vaporizables … and a flower market,” she said.

Wellcana’s Davis said any legislative change permitting cannabis flower would depend on “continued education of those governmental stakeholders,” including law-enforcement groups and regulators.

“But it’s going to take time, because there has been a very effective campaign to thoroughly demonize and stigmatize medical cannabis and cannabis in general,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

La. Governor signs medical cannabis expansion

Good news! Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill (HB 819) that will allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis for any medical condition the physician “considers debilitating to an individual patient” that the physician is qualified to treat. Currently, patients can only receive a recommendation for cannabis if they have a medical condition that is specifically listed.

HB 819 also adds several qualifying conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain associated with sickle cell anemia or fibromyalgia.

Gov. Edwards also signed a bill to protect banks serving medical cannabis businesses from state penalties (HB 211) and one to protect physicians and medical facilities involved in medical cannabis (HB 418).

All three take effect on August 1.

HB 819 was sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley (R). Bagley had been opposed to medical cannabis until he heard from constituents who found it relieved their pain. Now, he has become a champion.

His turnaround shows the dramatic impact constituent stories can have on their lawmakers. Considering reaching out to your state legislators about other marijuana policy reforms you care about.

If you’re a medical cannabis patient who has had problems with the program — perhaps due to the limited number of medical cannabis pharmacies or the lack of access to raw, flower cannabis — you may want to let your state senator and representative know.

You can also reach out to urge your lawmakers to support decriminalization or legalization of cannabis.

Courtesy of the Marijuana Policy Project

One of the Applicants for the Southern University License, Columbia Care, Sued for Fraud in New York Court

The complaint accuses New York-based Columbia Care of tortious interference with contract, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting fraud and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, among other offenses,

A Florida company focused on low-THC cannabis sued a New York-based cannabis company in New York County’s Supreme Court Commercial Division Friday, arguing that a medical marijuana license worth tens of millions of dollars was fraudulently misappropriated.

In the complaint, which accuses New York-based Columbia Care of tortious interference with contract, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting fraud and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, among other offenses, Kasowitz Benson Torres partner Sarmad Khojasteh also accused Columbia Care of “a pattern of racketeering and tortious activity” in other states, including Arizona and Massachusetts.

Khojasteh argued that his client, Florida MCBD, spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars seeking a license to operate a medical marijuana treatment center from the Florida Department of Health, starting in 2015.

To complete that process, Florida MCBD entered into a joint venture agreement with Sun Bulb, a Florida-based nursery, to help meet the state’s requirements for medical marijuana treatment center licenses, according to court filings.

Read the full article here.

Louisiana Senate And House Both Approve Significant Medical Marijuana Expansion

The Louisiana Senate approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program on Wednesday, and a committee advanced separate legislation on banking access for cannabis businesses.

The expansion proposal, which the House of Representatives approved last week, would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients for any debilitating condition that they deem fit instead of from the limited list of maladies that’s used under current law.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced the proposal last week and now the full chamber has approved it in a 28-6 vote. Before the bill heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for signature or veto, the House will have to sign off on an amendment made by the Senate to require dispensaries to record medical marijuana purchases in the state prescription monitoring program database.

As originally drafted, the bill> sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley (R) would have simply added traumatic brain injuries and concussions to the list of conditions that qualify a patient for a marijuana recommendation. But it was amended in a House committee to add several other conditions as well as language stipulating that cannabis can be recommended for any condition that a physician “considers debilitating to an individual patient.”

Under current law there are only 14 conditions that qualify patients for marijuana.

“House Bill 819 is the new standard for medical marijuana programs. The bill allows any doctor who is licensed by and in good standing with the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners to make medical marijuana recommendations for their patients,” Bagley told Marijuana Moment. “The bill also ends the Legislature’s task of picking medical winners and losers each session, and instead allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition that a physician, in his medical opinion, considers debilitating to an individual patient.”

Bagley also introduced a House-passed bill to provide for cannabis deliveries to patients, but he voluntarily withdrew it from Senate committee consideration last week and told Marijuana Moment it’s because he felt the medical marijuana expansion legislation would already allow cannabis products to be delivered to patients like other traditional pharmaceuticals.

The delivery bill would have required a government regulatory body to develop “procedures and regulations relative to delivery of dispensed marijuana to patients by designated employees or agents of the pharmacy.”

It’s not clear if regulators will agree with Bagley’s interpretation, as doctors are still prohibited from “prescribing” cannabis and marijuana products are not dispensed through traditional pharmacies. That said, they recently released a memo authorizing dispensaries to temporarily deliver cannabis to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s possible officials will be amendable to extending that policy on a permanent basis.

State lawmakers also advanced several other pieces of cannabis reform legislation last week.

A bill introduced by Rep. Edmond Jordan (D) to protect banks and credit unions that service cannabis businesses from being penalized by state regulators cleared the full House in a 74-20 vote.

That measure was approved by Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs on Wednesday, setting it up for floor action in the chamber.

Also last week, the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee unanimously approved a resolution to establish “a task force to study and make recommendations relative to the cannabis industry projected workforce demands.”

Text of the legislation states that “there is a need to study the workforce demands and the skills necessary to supply the cannabis industry with a capable and compete workforce, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners.”

Legislators have until the end of the legislative session on June 1 to get any of the measures to the governor’s desk.

Read the full article here.

New Mexico Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Would’ve Funded Programs Cut Due To Coronavirus

The governor of New Mexico said last week that the state needs to explore every option for economic relief, and that includes passing marijuana legalization.

Near the end of a two-hour livestream updating residents on the state’s coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) was asked whether she was in favor of the legislature passing adult-use legalization during an upcoming special session to generate tax revenue to offset financial challenges caused by the pandemic.

“Let’s end on a high note,” the governor joked, adding that she felt suspensions of various capital projects due to the health crisis “likely would not have occurred” if lawmakers had legalized recreational marijuana during this year’s regular session as she’d unsuccessfully urged them to do.

“The projections are nearly $100 million of recurring revenue into the budget” from cannabis legalization, she said. “If we want economic support and economic relief, then we have to use every economic idea. And I want to point out also that the vast majority of New Mexicans favor recreational cannabis.”

Lujan Grisham hinted that she may actively campaign against lawmakers who blocked her legalization bill in this year’s regular session.

“We have an opportunity,” she said. “I think all of our policymakers need to think clearly—and they should expect me to be supporting in the next general election—we have to pass recreational cannabis in the state. We need to diversify our economy, we need to increase opportunity for recurring revenue and we have to rebuild an economy that has suffered dramatically during this public health crisis.”

The governor made a similar argument last month, though she also acknowledged that the $100 million revenue estimate, which was released by a working group the governor formed to study the impact of legalization last year, would likely have been affected by the pandemic.

It should also be noted that the $100 million figure is an estimate of the combined tax revenue from the existing medical cannabis market and the add-on of adult-use sales. And that’s after the latter market matures.

Further, a legalization bill that passed one Senate committee earlier this year only to be rejected in another before the close of the short 30-day session stipulated that sales would have begun on July 1, meaning the state would not have been able to collect the much-needed revenue in the midst of the health crisis, unless emergency action was taken.

Legalization might not have happened as planned during New Mexico’s regular 2020 legislative session, but the governor said in February that she’s open to letting voters decide on the policy change via a ballot referendum.

While the Lujan Grisham didn’t directly answer the question about whether legalization should be pursued during the special session in June, a spokesperson for her office recently said that it’s unlikely the reform move will happen during the window.

Read the entire article here.

Louisiana Lawmakers Advance Three Marijuana Reform Bills In One Day, Including Cannabis Banking

Louisiana lawmakers advanced three marijuana reform bills on Wednesday, and that includes legislation that would dramatically expand the state’s medical cannabis program and offer protections for banks that service marijuana businesses.

House-passed legislation to allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients for any debilitating condition that they deem fit was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee in a 5-1 vote. Under current law there are only 14 conditions that qualify patients for marijuana. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

Another bill introduced by Rep. Edmond Jordan (D) to protect banks and credit unions that service cannabis businesses from being penalized by state regulators also advanced on Wednesday, clearing the full House of Representatives in a 74-20 vote.

Beyond prohibiting such penalization solely due to marijuana-related banking activity, the legislation would further prevent state regulators from encouraging banks to deny financial services or cancel accounts for businesses “solely because the account holder is a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider, or is an employee, owner, or operator of a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider.”

The financial services legislation will next be considered by a Senate committee before potentially going to that body’s floor.

(However, even if the bill is enacted and provides state protections, banks still face penalties from federal regulators under ongoing national prohibition. The U.S. House has passed federal marijuana banking legislation on two occasions but it has thus far languished in the Senate.)

Over in the Louisiana House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, members unanimously approved a resolution to establish “a task force to study and make recommendations relative to the cannabis industry projected workforce demands.”

Text of the legislation states that “there is a need to study the workforce demands and the skills necessary to supply the cannabis industry with a capable and compete workforce, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners”

An 11-member task force would be required to “report its findings and recommendations, including any suggestions for proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than February 1, 2021, at which time the task force shall cease to exist.”

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee was also set to take up another another House-passed bill on Wednesday to let licensed dispensaries deliver cannabis to the homes of patients, but the sponsor, Rep. Larry Bagley (R), withdrew it.

He told Marijuana Moment that the reasoning was it’s his understanding that because his separate medical cannabis expansion bill is advancing, it would mean marijuana could be delivered just like any other prescription medication. It’s not clear if regulators will agree with that interpretation, as doctors are still prohibited from “prescribing” cannabis and marijuana products are not dispensed through traditional pharmacies.

That said, Louisiana’s Department of Pharmacy recently released a memo temporarily authorizing dispensaries to temporarily deliver cannabis to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s possible officials will be amendable to extending that policy on a permanent basis.

Bagley’s delivery bill would require a government regulatory body to develop “procedures and regulations relative to delivery of dispensed marijuana to patients by designated employees or agents of the pharmacy.”

Finally, another marijuana resolution that was scheduled for debate in the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee was also deferred by its sponsor. The measure would have requested a study the impact of adult-use cannabis legalization in the state.

Under the legislation, members of the panel or a subcommittee would be tasked with meeting “as a joint committee to study the impact of legalizing the possession and use of cannabis on the citizens of this state and to report its findings to the legislature prior to the convening of the 2021 Regular Session of the Legislature of Louisiana,” the text states.

Lawmakers have until the end of the legislative session on June 1 to get any of these measures to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

View the entire article here.

STATE ACTION ALERT: Help Us Pass HB 385 for Flower in Louisiana!

Flower is the difference between Louisiana and 31 of the 32 other states that have a functioning medical Cannabis program in place.  It is the linchpin in any successful program because it is a far cheaper form of the medicine and it comprises over 50%, on average, of sales in all other healthy medical Cannabis states.

As you know, we have only tinctures in Louisiana – no flower.  That means that patients can’t buy legal Cannabis flower to either cook with, to vaporize, to use in the creation of their own tinctures or otherwise.  HB 385 is the bill that would change everything.

It’s the most important piece of legislation this year or in any year since the Alison Neustrom medical Cannabis program began in 2016.  The bill sponsor is Representative Ted James (D) of Baton Rouge.  The bill was scheduled to be considered in the House Health and Welfare Committee last Wednesday, May 13th, but was pulled without explanation.  With your help, it could pass.

Without your help, it cannot pass.
Without your help, the program will suffer mightily and will otherwise merely struggle along until next legislative session if it survives at all.

The simple fact is that too few patients are involved and so it just isn’t a viable business in the state.  This is how the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association (LSA) and others want it to be.  If you don’t think that the LSA should have any role in the doctor-patient relationship or, for that matter, issues of public health, please contact Representatives Larry Bagley (Chairman of House Health and Welfare) and Ted James (bill sponsor) to request that the bill be added back to the agenda and considered on Tuesday, May 19th at 9:00am.

This is the very last chance we have to save this critical bill, provide medicine for the masses and prevent Louisiana from becoming more of the laughing stock of our country on another issue for another year.

Here’s how you do it:  call these two numbers and/or email these two email addresses (below) and courteously and professionally ask these gentlemen/allies, “Please add HB 385 back to the agenda of the Health and Welfare Committee and hold a vote to pass this critical legislation for the patients of our state.

(1) Chairman Larry Bagley
Phone: (318) 925-9588
[email protected]
Legislative Assistant: Brandy Pearce


(2) Representative Ted James
Phone: (225) 343-3633
[email protected]
Legislative Assistant: Claire Stevenson

Want to go the extra mile?
Then grab a mask and gloves and go down to the Capitol (the “people’s house”) on Tuesday morning to pack the Committee room and demand a properly functioning medical Cannabis program – demand the removal of restrictions against flower. Remember, only two jurisdictions out of 33 states + Washington D.C. prohibit flower (“raw or crude” form) and those two states are the only two failing programs: Louisiana and Minnesota.


Attention: Anyone wishing to attend and submit written information to the committee – Only statements emailed to [email protected] and received prior to 3:00 p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020, will be included in the record for this committee meeting. All persons desiring to participate in the meeting shall utilize appropriate protective health measures and observe the recommended and appropriate social distancing.

SAFE Banking and Steps That Can Be Taken in Support of It

As you likely know, the federal SAFE Banking Act would make it easier for cannabis businesses to secure banking access. This is important for the safety of cannabis workers (to reduce the risk of robberies), for the efficiency of businesses (thus helping reduce prices) , and now for public health (to reduce the reliance on cash, which could have the virus on it).

This is a little bit of a dive into the current state of SAFE, its possible passage via the stimulus package, and the steps you or your org can take that would be timely and effective in support.

Leader McConnell came out with some negative statements today, directed specifically at the diversity provisions that appeared in SAFE and were included in the stimulus draft. At this point we are not sure how much that will impact the trajectory of the banking provisions in SAFE over the next few weeks – and it’s worth noting his hemp constituents will be direct benficiaries of the provisions. Here’s where we see things at the moment:

In the House

While the SAFE provisions are in the package already, we believe that package will be hotly debated for several weeks. Despite that, we do think the SAFE provisions will remain in the final version, for the simple fact that it already passed the House by a wide margin, and House members would not want to be seen as holding it up.

While we think it will likely pass the House, it will have opposition. A key consideration during this period of debate will be whether SAFE is “necessary and germane” to COVID-19, and not simply inserted in a must-pass measure. We saw that in responses to McConnell’s comments on Twitter. We believe the strongest new argument among Republicans is that banks need the currency to lend out to other businesses in need. For the Democrats, we are emphasizing the health and safety of their constituents and government workers processing large amounts of cash.

In the Senate

The more significant challenge will be in the Senate. On that score, our best asset is that Republicans want to help Sen. Cory Gardner, currently locked in a senatorial race with former Gov. Hickenlooper. Gardner is a strong advocate for safe banking, and passage of the SAFE provisions helps his campaign. Don is in regular communications with Gardner and his staff.

Our second best asset is that financial institutions and other large business interests are also interested in SAFE Banking,and this is where we are asking for your help

Steps you can take

If your company has a good relationship with your banker, or if you have allies such as law firms, tax or accounting firms, or other companies that operate on a national level, please consider reaching out and enlisting their voices. Specifically, we want these ancillary institutions talking with members of the Senate Banking Committee, and asking for their support on this issue before the next stimulus package is up for consideration in the Senate. They already know cannabis companies want it – now let’s magnify the message.The members and their contact information is available here and I listed them below. Please consider reaching out to your network if you see an opportunity.

Majority Members (13)
Minority Members (12)
Crapo, Mike (ID), Chairman
Shelby, Richard C. (AL)
Toomey, Patrick J. (PA)
Scott, Tim (SC)
Sasse, Ben (NE)
Cotton, Tom (AR)
Rounds, Mike (SD)
Perdue, David (GA)
Tillis, Thom (NC)
Kennedy, John (LA)
McSally, Martha (AZ)
Moran, Jerry (KS)
Cramer, Kevin (ND)
Brown, Sherrod (OH), Ranking Member
Reed, Jack (RI)
Menendez, Robert (NJ)
Tester, Jon (MT)
Warner, Mark R. (VA)
Warren, Elizabeth (MA)
Schatz, Brian (HI)
Van Hollen, Chris (MD)
Cortez Masto, Catherine (NV)
Jones, Doug (AL)
Smith, Tina (MN)
Sinema, Kyrsten (AZ)

Medical cannabis improvements on the move — act now!

While many state legislatures have adjourned due to the coronavirus, the Louisiana State Legislature is back in action — with social distancing precautions — and is considering a series of bills to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

On Wednesday, the House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously advanced bills sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley (R) that would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any debilitating condition (HB 819) and allow regulated home delivery permanently (HB 792). Next Wednesday, the committee is scheduled to consider several other reforms, including removing the prohibition on raw cannabis (Rep. Ted James’ HB 385).

Louisiana is one of only two medical cannabis states that continue to ban cannabis in its natural, plant form. Because extracts are far more expensive to produce, this drives up costs and results in a program that is out of reach to most of the state’s residents.

Let your lawmakers know these bills will improve the lives of suffering Louisianans.

Never doubt the impact constituent feedback can have on medical cannabis policy. The two bills that advanced out of committee are sponsored by a lawmaker who evolved from an opponent to a champion after hearing from constituents.

Rep. Bagley told Marijuana Moment he’d voted against previous medical cannabis bills. “But now, constituents in my area, they come to me and they ask me for help because they’re having pain, they can’t find things to cure the pain. …Now their personal physician can write them a script for [cannabis] and they can get it. Who knows you better than your personal physician? I thought it made perfect sense,” said Bagley.

After you write your lawmakers, please spread the word to other compassionate Louisianans, so that they, too, can raise their voices.

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