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May 12, 2023 0 Comments

Update on Marijuana Bills in the Louisiana Legislature

The Louisiana legislature has a number of marijuana bills that are being considered during their regular session which started on Monday, April 10th and goes through Thursday, June 8th, 2023. Among the bills being considered are HB115 regarding job protection and non-discrimination regarding medical marijuana patients, HB286 which addresses expungements for certain amounts of marijuana possession, and HB24 which provides for decriminalization of marijuana possession and distribution.

HB24 – Authored by Representative Candace N. Newell, this bill provides for the decriminalization of marijuana possession and distribution. The bill includes only marijuana that was obtained via a valid recommendation by a physician licensed in the state of Louisiana. The bill was read by title and referred to the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on April 10th then involuntarily deferred (meaning 2/3rds of the members in the committee voted to consider it at a later date) in committee on April 25th.

HB115 – Authored by Representative C. Travis Johnson, this bill addresses discrimination against private employees or candidates who are being considered for employment who are medical marijuana patients in Louisiana. The bill is a result of the task force that was assembled in 2022 to make recommendations for consideration in the regular session of 2023. The task force voted 11 to 2 to include protections for private employees and that “employers cannot discriminate, refuse to hire or impose consequences on employees based solely upon their past or present status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient.” This bill was referred to the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on March 15th and withdrawn prior to introduction on March 17, 2023.

HB351 – Authored by Representative Mandie Landry, this bill is also related to the protection of employees in the private workplace who are medical marijuana patients. The bill states that medical marijuana patients cannot be disqualified from benefits such as worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits based solely on their legal use of medical marijuana. Exceptions include safety-sensitive jobs. This bill was read by title and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on April 10th, 2023.

HB460 – Authored by Representative Robert “Bob” Owen, HB460 regards the dispensing of medical marijuana. This bill proposes that, once a region reaches 3,500 active, qualified medical marijuana patients, The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy will notify medical marijuana pharmacy licensee in that region that they would be allowed to open one additional “satellite” location in that region. After seven thousand qualified patients are identified in a region, a second “satellite” location can be opened by that licensee in that region. This bill was referred to the Committee on Health and Welfare on April 10th where amendments were made and returned on April 26th. On April 27th, the amended bill was read by title and passed to the third reading. On May 9th, the bill was read by title, and a vote was taken where 72 yeas and 25 nays were cast. The bill passed, the title adopted, and ordered to be passed to the Senate. On that same day, the Senate read the bill for the first time and, on May 10th, it was referred back to the Committee on Health and Welfare.

HB467 – Authored by Representative Joseph Marino, this bill also addresses medical marijuana pharmacies but is in opposition to “satellite” locations. This bill proposes that the number of medical marijuana pharmacy licenses allowed be increased from the current limit of 10 to 30 pharmacies and that licenses would be awarded through a competitive process where ownership by a minority, veteran, or woman would be considered a primary factor in winning the license. It also proposes an increase in the number of contractors that can be utilized by licensed producers from one to any contractor authorized to produce therapeutic marijuana in the state. It also increases the radius where a new pharmacy could be built from a 15 miles radius away from an existing pharmacy to a one-mile straight line radius. Should this bill become law, any present laws regarding “satellite” pharmacies or laws in conflict would be repealed. This bill was read by title on April 10th and referred to the Committee on Health and Welfare.

HB492 – Authored by Representative Joseph Marino, this bill would repeal a tax on marijuana and controlled dangerous substances that was first enacted in 1950. The law currently states that for every gram of marijuana sold, a tax of $3.50 would be levied, and a tax of $400 on ten dosage units of a controlled substance (including marijuana) that is not sold by weight. The proposed law would repeal the tax and all costs related to the levy, administration, collection, and enforcement of the tax. It was read by title on April 19th and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Contact Your Representatives

There are several other bills being considered during the 2023 Regular Session that involve marijuana and could have an impact on medical marijuana patients. Some are positive changes and some are not. If you’d like to read more, click here and search for “Marijuana” under “Search by Bill Text” or “Search by Summary.” In the meantime, Louisiana legislators have until June 8th, when the 2023 Regular Session ends, to either pass these bills into law or defer until the next session. If you would like to contact your representatives to ask them to vote for or against a bill, click here and type in your address. To find contact information for your State Representative, click here, and to find your State Senator, click here.

If you’re interested in becoming a medical marijuana patient, please contact The Healing Clinics or click the button below to get started!

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