It’s no secret that the medical marijuana program in Louisiana can seem a bit convoluted and even overwhelming to new patients. With the legalization of medical marijuana in Louisiana, more and more people are turning to cannabis as a form of natural medicine. To make being a patient in the program a little easier, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of getting qualified, along with a few ideas on how to save money on the costs associated with the process.
Louisiana legalized medical marijuana in 2015, becoming the second state in the South to do so, but the program didn’t actually get underway until 2018. Since then, the program has grown by leaps and bounds and now has more than 60,000 patients enrolled.
According to the laws of the state of Louisiana, here are the steps that must be taken to be considered for the program:
1) Find a Doctor to provide your medical marijuana evaluation – Any physician licensed by the state of Louisiana can write a recommendation for medical marijuana. However, since marijuana remains federally illegal, most physicians still do not. Writing recommendations can affect banking, advertising, hiring, and many other functions of a primary care doctor’s practice. The physicians at The Healing Clinics only write recommendations for medical marijuana.
2) Submit your new patient intake forms, make your payment, and allow the doctor to determine if medical marijuana is a good fit for you. By the time you have your appointment with the doctor, the staff will have assembled all the necessary forms and paperwork in your medical file for your physician to review. Any debilitating condition that the physician feels can be helped by medical marijuana qualifies a patient for treatment. Some of the most common debilitating conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders, autism, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body dementia (LBD), Motor neuron disease, and many other conditions.
3) If the doctor finds you are qualified for treatment, a recommendation will be faxed to the dispensary of your choice. MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARDS ARE NOT REQUIRED OR NECESSARY IN LOUISIANA.
If the doctor feels you won’t be helped by medical marijuana and you’ve received your evaluation through The Healing Clinics, you’ll receive a 100% refund of your initial payment. Check to ensure you’ll receive a refund if using any other clinics or physicians.
4) Go to the medical marijuana pharmacy you chose and meet with the pharmacist for your initial consultation. The pharmacy should get in touch with you to set your appointment but, if they don’t, feel free to set it up yourself. The pharmacist will help you decide which form of delivery (vape, flower, edibles, oils, etc.) and which dosage will work best for you and your condition. These can be adjusted over time so that you have the best possible experience.
5) Renew your recommendations each year. When your recommendations expire, typically in 12 months, you will need to renew to continue treatment with medical marijuana.
During your medical marijuana evaluation, the doctor will review your new patient intake forms and any necessary medical records you’ve provided from other physicians and ask you questions about your medical history. By the time the doctor is reviewing your file and performing your evaluation, the staff has already made sure all necessary documents are included. When your evaluation by the physician is complete, you will be informed if the physician feels medical marijuana could help with your condition. If you qualify, a recommendation form signed by the physician will be faxed to the Louisiana medical marijuana dispensary that you’ve chosen in your intake forms. The pharmacy should then contact you for your initial consultation and to choose your products.
In order to be eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation in Louisiana, you must be a resident of the state with some form of picture identification. Any debilitating condition qualifies. For those under 21 years of age but over 18, a parental approval form must be signed and submitted by a parent or guardian before being considered for a physician’s recommendation. For children with autism, medical marijuana is available only under strict parental supervision.
If the physician determines that a new patient does qualify, a recommendation will be faxed to the medical marijuana pharmacy of the patient’s choice.
Once a new patient has decided to speak with a doctor about joining the Louisiana medical marijuana program, the next step is to find a doctor who can issue a recommendation. The Healing Clinics offers these services.
When searching for a doctor, it is important to make sure that the physician is licensed to practice in Louisiana. New patients should also make sure that the doctor is knowledgeable about medical marijuana and can provide them with the necessary information and guidance being sought. The physicians at The Healing Clinics specialize in medical marijuana and can help new patients determine if it will help with their condition.
There are currently ten medical marijuana pharmacies in the state of Louisiana. Any patient with a recommendation from a physician licensed by the state of Louisiana can shop at any of these pharmacies. All have online shopping and most offer local delivery. The pharmacist at the dispensary will help new patients select the best products to treat their conditions and will help adjust the dosage and product type as needed to get the best results.
Certain exceptions can be made, but the state requires that the recommendation be faxed to one pharmacy. If the patient changes their mind and wants to change pharmacies at a later date, the medical marijuana doctor who performed the evaluation can fax the recommendations to another pharmacy.
Once the physician has faxed the recommendations to the pharmacy that the new patient chose, the patient can go to the pharmacy and have a consultation with the pharmacist or consultant. They will help to choose which method of delivery (flower, edibles, vape, oil, tinctures, etc.) and what dosage would work best for the qualifying conditions. They will also show new patients how to use whichever product they choose.
All pharmacies also offer online shopping. This gives new patients an opportunity to browse and decide which products they would most like to try and questions to ask before their consultation. After the first consultation, patients can order online and, in some cases, get local delivery of their products. Existing patients can also take advantage of online shopping and delivery.
During your consultation, make sure to ask questions about the different products available and make sure that you understand what each product does. Additionally, make sure to check the prices of the products and compare them to other dispensaries. Finally, make sure to read the label of the products to ensure that you are buying the right product for your needs. Also, be sure not to exceed recommended doses without consulting your medical marijuana pharmacist. They may prefer to adjust the dosage when they fill your next recommendation. Making sure to take only the recommended dose will help you avoid overconsumption.
If you intend to travel with medical marijuana products that you’ve purchased legally, be sure to keep products in the original packaging they came in with the label attached. You can also get a copy of your recommendation from your medical marijuana doctor or pharmacist for use in identifying yourself as a current patient in the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program.
If the price of joining the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program seems cost prohibitive, there are some ways to save money. Some medical marijuana physicians and pharmacies offer discounts for veterans, seniors, patients in hospice, and people with disabilities. Please contact The Healing Clinics before paying the full rate if you think you may qualify for discounts.
Another way to save money is by shopping online at all ten medical marijuana pharmacies and doing price comparisons for the products you want.
If the cost of purchasing products is still prohibiting your participation, try shopping in Arkansas as a visiting patient. A participant in the Louisiana medical marijuana program with a current recommendation can fill out a visiting patient form online and pay a $50.00 (non-refundable) fee. If approved, a visiting patient may purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas for a 90-day period, per application. Just be aware that, though a patient could legally consume these products in Arkansas or Louisiana, transportation across state lines is still federally illegal.
Getting a medical marijuana card in Louisiana can be a confusing and daunting process. Especially since no medical marijuana card exists in Louisiana! However, with the right information and guidance, you can navigate the process with ease. If you have any further questions about the process, please contact The Healing Clinics for more information.
Special thanks to John Lewis for the idea and his collaboration on this post.