Nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical marijuana across Louisiana, and most are expected to open this week.
Louisiana joins more than 30 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form.
And though marijuana is banned at the federal level, a congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs.
A 41-year-old combat veteran from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, made his purchase at Capitol Wellness Solutions on Tuesday. He said he’d tried medical marijuana in California, and it changed his life, but he was happy to be able to purchase it in his home state.
“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,” Gary Hess told reporters before making his purchase. “That’s incredible.”
GB Sciences, one of two state-sanctioned growers, began shipping medical marijuana to Louisiana’s registered dispensaries Tuesday morning, after state regulators recently completed final tests and cleared it for release.
Hundreds of patients in Louisiana have been awaiting the start of the program after years of work by lawmakers, who created the regulatory framework in 2015 for dispensing the cannabis. There also have been regulatory disputes and other hurdles.
Only the Louisiana State University and Southern University agricultural centers are authorized to grow medicinal-grade pot.
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