An effort to loosen some regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program and let patients inhale the drug easily cleared the Louisiana House Tuesday.
State Rep. Ted James told lawmakers his bill was “not an expansion” of the medical marijuana program, but instead would simply let patients ingest the drug through an inhaler, much like an asthma inhaler. He also emphasized it would not allow patients to smoke marijuana.
James, D-Baton Rouge, called the bill “clean up” legislation. If signed into law, the bill would also repeal a requirement that doctors recommending the drug be domiciled in the state, and end a regulation that prohibits a certain type of extraction method for producing the drug.
The House approved the bill on a 73-3 vote, sending it to the Senate. Current law allows certain nonsmokable forms of medical marijuana under a tightly-regulated program.
The state’s medical marijuana program has still not delivered marijuana to patients, several years after lawmakers approve it. The drug is expected to be available in a limited number of tincture bottles in the coming months, though it is still not clear when. The state’s only operating grower, GB Sciences and the LSU AgCenter, have feuded with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry over regulations.
Some lawmakers has sought to revoke Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain's regulatory power over the program and give it to the health department instead.