Despite the fact that Louisiana has had medical marijuana legislation on the books for decades, it’s been nearly impossible to become an MMJ patient in the state until recently. That’s because there weren’t any protections in place to make it worth it for patients to get recommendations and for doctors to feel secure giving them. In 2016, however, provisions were made for a comprehensive medical marijuana program. However, the first round of state-approved medical cannabis was only released in August 2019. At this time, Louisiana became the first “Deep South” state to dispense medical cannabis.
While Louisiana’s medical marijuana program is still relatively new and quite limited compared to those in other states, it’s still a functional program with a straightforward recommendation process.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting a medical marijuana card in Louisiana, read this step-by-step guide.
Louisiana’s medical cannabis supply chain has been deemed an essential service and is exempt from closure under the state’s stay-at-home order. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MMJ patients can request home delivery and get renewals (only) via telemedicine. Telemedicine allows you to connect with a doctor online, from the comfort of your home, via a phone, tablet, or computer. Heally connects patients with certified doctors for telehealth appointments. You can request an appointment here.
There are three basic steps to getting a medical card in Louisiana:
- Ensure You Qualify: You’ll need to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition to get a recommendation before you can access medical cannabis. The list is more limited than in most other states.
- Find a Doctor: Sign up with Heally to quickly and conveniently connect with a physician who’s certified with a therapeutic marijuana registration permit for an evaluation.
- Get a Recommendation and Visit a Licensed Pharmacy: A certified doctor will need to evaluate whether medical cannabis is a good fit for you and then send a recommendation to a licensed pharmacy of your choice. There is no online registration process in Louisiana.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Louisiana
Ensure You Qualify
To qualify for medical cannabis in Louisiana, you must be a resident of the state with proof of residence. There are no age limits. You must also be diagnosed with a qualifying condition to be deemed eligible for a recommendation. The list of conditions in Louisiana is shorter than in many other states.
Eligible conditions in LA:
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Crohn’s disease
- Intractable pain
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spastic quadriplegia
- Spasticity (including severe muscle spasms)
- Specific symptoms of autism spectrum disorder
As you can see, there are some notable omissions that are common in other states’ lists of qualifying conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, arthritis, severe nausea, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), among many others. Still, many conditions made the cut, which allows a good number of patients to get medical cannabis.
2. Find a Certified Physician
The most difficult part of becoming an MMJ patient in Louisiana is finding a certified doctor that offers evaluations and medical cannabis recommendations. Relatively few doctors in the state have gone through the necessary certification process, which requires them to take part in an online program to get a therapeutic marijuana registration permit. Only physicians with this permit have access to the Board of Pharmacy’s Medical Cannabis Registry to add and remove MMJ patients.
Finding such a doctor is not an easy task, although the state does offer an online database to search for physicians with an active permit. Fortunately, Heally makes it even easier for you to connect with a certified physician in your state to schedule an online telehealth or in-office doctor’s visit for a consultation.
Make sure to bring your proof of residency, government-issued ID, and medical records to the consultation. Be prepared to pay a couple hundred bucks for the initial visit to a clinic.
3. Receive Your Recommendation and Visit a Licensed Pharmacy
If the physician deems you eligible, they will add you to the Medical Cannabis Registry and send a recommendation to your medical cannabis pharmacy of choice. This recommendation will indicate your order and marijuana type for purchase. You’ll receive a notification when your order is ready at the pharmacy.
Louisiana does things a bit differently than other states. First, you do not have to go through any online registration process. It’s also important to mention that you will not receive a physical medical marijuana card. Further, in Louisiana, you will also purchase cannabis from a licensed pharmacy, not a “dispensary.” These pharmacies operate similarly to traditional pharmacies and have knowledgeable technicians dispensing your medication. There are only nine approved pharmacies, one for each designated region in the state, however, so you should probably expect a far drive.
Another big caveat: Your cannabis product options are limited in Louisiana, which is less than ideal for MMJ patients. As of 2022, you can now purchase smoking or vaping products such as cannabis flower. Your choices are currently not only restricted to cannabis oils, tinctures, capsules, liquids, topicals, gummies, suppositories, and sprays. You can have up to a 30-day supply of cannabis products. You also cannot grow cannabis at home, and there are no plans to allow this in the near future.