Medical Cannabis Coming soon in Pharmacies in Louisiana
Frustrated patients in Louisiana may soon be able to heave a sigh of relief
If all goes well in the final round of testing of GB Sciences cannabis oil formulations by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).
According to the Agriculture Commissioner, Mike Strain, if the product samples pass tests for homogeneity, potency, and are found to be free of contaminants, the products could be available to patients in the next few weeks. He did, however, warn that in the event of issues arising from the samples, the testing process could be extended further than the expected seven business days.
This has been a long hard road for patients, plagued by delays and wrangles between the LDAF and Louisiana State University’s (LSU) contracted grower, GB Sciences. LSU and Southern University agricultural centers are the only licensed growers of medicinal cannabis in the state. Marijuana was legalized for medicinal use by state lawmakers in 2015, under the Louisiana Therapeutic Marijuana Act (Alison Neustrom Act), with some further updates to the legislation in 2016 that established the framework for dispensing of medicinal cannabis.
Groundwork for Cannabis Dispensing
The Pharmacy Board has selected nine dispensing pharmacies for the sale of medicinal cannabis. All are staffed with duly licensed pharmacists and have readied their premises for the product. The Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners has also issued active therapeutic marijuana licenses to 84 doctors who can ‘recommend’ the use of the drug to patients. This distinction of recommending the drug rather than prescribing is to protect doctors who may lose their licenses for prescribing other medications under federal law for dealing with a schedule 1 drug.
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Wrangling Causing Delays to Sick Patients
Much of the delays, according to the growers, are attributed to tight regulations by the state. In fact, Southern University’s growers, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, received authorization to begin growing the medicinal plant as recently as July 2019. Depending on the strain, they should take about 3-5 months to grow their crop before it can be processed and tested.
While Southern University and its grower have not engaged in any public disputes concerning the pace at which the process is moving along, LSU has been more vocal with some back on forth between them and the Agriculture Department on who is to blame. Medical marijuana advocates and sick patients have also added to the situation, calling out the state agency for its rigidness. These wrangles do however seem to have abated as the final testing phase of GB Sciences initial products are awaiting results.
Head of GB Sciences Louisiana, John Davis, anticipates that during the initial rollout, pharmacies could see as many as 5,000 to 10,000 patients seeking their products. He further expects that the market could grow to as much as 100,000 to 150,000 patients in the coming years.
To help soothe any concerns about their products and its dosing research, GB Sciences held a seminar hosted by one of the nine licensed pharmacies, Capitol Wellness, for local stakeholders. For Davis, this move helps to demonstrate their credibility by sharing in the peer-reviewed medical literature that supported their work. Capital Wellness owner, Randy Mire, confirmed that they had a long list of patients eagerly awaiting the drugs and had hoped to be able to begin dispensing as early as Thursday, as had been earlier speculated would be the release date.
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Groundwork for Cannabis Dispensing
While GB Sciences is planning to eventually release a slew of products including Listerine-style cannabis-infused oral thin strips that melt in the mouth, lozenges, creams, and inhalers, they are first starting out with droppers. The tinctures will be available in three variations, to be dispensed in 30ml bottles. The first will have a high concentration of THC, the second a higher concentration of CBD, and a third option with a balanced mix of the two compounds. Prices will range from $90-$200, depending on the particular formulation chosen.
Under the marijuana therapeutic legislation, patients suffering conditions such as cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, PTSD, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, and specific cases of autism, are among those that will be able to benefit from these drugs. The drug will not be available in its raw form for smoking, but lawmakers did compromise earlier this year to allow for asthma-like inhalers to be used.
You can also follow this press release to learn more about how CBD has worked wonders on children with Epilepsy. And you can follow Harbor Collective MMCC’s article on how Ryan’s Law Would Allow Terminally Ill Patients to Choose Medical Cannabis Treatment.