Louisiana Has Already Legalized Marijuana Three Times
Louisiana already has laws on the books, the first dating back to 1978, which legalize marijuana in medicinal form. This law was redrafted and passed again in 1991, and again in 2015 under Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration. So, what’s the catch? If medicinal marijuana is legal, why isn’t anyone benefitting?
The answer is simple, marijuana is only legal in Louisiana in theory. As the laws were written, there are no measures to address distribution, resulting in essentially toothless laws that provide absolutely no framework for getting the plant, celebrated globally for it’s healing properties, into the hands of those suffering with illnesses covered by the language. The Department of Health and Hospitals was issued directives to author rules for dispensing the medication in it’s legally approved form, but the rules never materialized into action.
As the law is written, medicinal marijuana in the State of Louisiana cannot be ingested in its raw (smokable) form, and must be converted into an orally digestible form. The process of conversion adds an expensive and complicated layer of legislature, infrastructure, and oversight. In short, we are facing a nearly one billion dollar shortfall, and adding expensive infrastructure is simply not an option.
Senator Fred Mills (R-New Iberia) has proposed that a single cultivation site handle the growth of the plant. LSU and Southern University Agriculture Centers have been given first priority as hosts for this experimental policy, but there is speculation that the universities could lose federal funding if they participate. The bill specifies only a handful of eligible conditions, known as “disease states,” and does not address the conversion of the plant to a pill or oil form. It also does not address the handling of cash derived from sales, which can be seized by the federal government, so banks will not touch the money.
According to nola.com, “A sunset clause will force the Legislature in five years to readopt the law. The five-year expiration is intended to give lawmakers the opportunity to explore the impact of legal access to medial marijuana and possibly re-evaluate the system.” The bottom line remains that the cost of infrastructure to legalize marijuana medically only, will create an extra consideration of up front expense that Louisiana simply cannot afford. It is also hard to imagine a scenario where the sale of medical marijuana to ten dispensaries will create the kind of windfall tax revenue that our economy needs to get back on its feet.
Conversely, Washington State, which recently passed recreational marijuana laws, is projecting nearly one billion dollars in tax revenue over the next four years. One billion is exactly the number of dollars we need. Coincidence? Divine suggestion? You be the judge.
Give Louisiana the Freedom to Prosper. Sign the petition today. #legalizeitlouisiana