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Lawmakers press Agriculture Commissioner on stalled medical marijuana products

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Lawmakers pressed the Commissioner of Agriculture over the sluggish rollout of the medical marijuana program. While the state has excessive demand, there’s a scarcity of product and infinite pink tape delaying this system.

With the primary medical marijuana products hitting the cabinets within the state in 2019, it has been a problem to maintain them stocked. From few suppliers to infinite laws and restricted sources on the bureaucratic degree, this system is stalling.

“Nobody around the other 37 states that operate medical marijuana programs is looking to Louisiana as best practices,” stated Rep. Joe Marino.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain units the tempo for the rollout. Every medical marijuana product needs to be examined by one state lab. While some companies have utilized to do the testing, there are strict guidelines to approve any further labs.

There have additionally been months-long delays in any rule modifications for one thing so simple as altering a sticker on a beaker, as identified by Representative Debbie Villio. In January, the uncooked smokable marijuana will likely be made authorized for medical use, however the utility course of to get the principles arrange has been delayed by the workplace as they claimed to be short-staffed. All of these delays result in products not moving into the fingers of sufferers.

“There are reserves held at the suppliers that are not necessarily getting to the pharmacies. The pharmacists said we have people to buy it but we don’t have enough to sell,” Rep. Scott McKnight stated.

LSU, Southern University and their growers are the one two suppliers of medical marijuana within the state. There are solely 9 dispensaries which have restricted hours. Rep. Jack McFarland stated his native physician didn’t know if he was in a position to advocate medical marijuana to his sufferers, highlighting the necessity for training across the program and products.

With the provision and demand points, additionally it is jacking up the costs. One lady with continual ache testified that she spends over a thousand {dollars} a month on her medical marijuana products, which might solely be a couple of hundred in different states.

“What patients are paying here is at least double if not more than what patients in Colorado are paying for similar products,” stated Dr. James Moises of New Orleans. “We’re a poor state, it’s just hard. It really eliminates a large section of our patient population that could use these medicines.”

Legislators urged the commissioner for extra solutions on why there are such a lot of delays. He stated it’s a part of the protection course of and the smaller funds given to this system.

Patients testified that they might go months with out having their medicine because of the quick provide and dispensaries being inaccessible. The gelatine products, or gummies, have hardly ever been seen on cabinets because of the guidelines round them being modified a number of instances and lengthy wait intervals between every approval.

“We have an industry that we have approved that we have to allow to move smoothly and the end result is we have happy consumers that get a product that they need at a good price point to where we can move this forward,” Rep. McKnight stated.

The commissioner stated the funds for this system has been reduce in half and there are restricted sources to finish all of the work. But he stated the protection of the products should not be misplaced within the rush to get products out. He will likely be referred to as again to the capitol subsequent month to reply extra questions on delays in this system.