It may be surprising to some that in Louisiana, medical marijuana has been legal since 1991. However, even after 22 years, the state government had never developed the framework for supplying patients with medicine. It wasn’t until 2014, when Senator Fred Mills, a pharmacist and former director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, proposed legislation that would construct a system for the cultivation and distribution of medicinal marijuana. Sadly, the bill never passed through the senate.
Senator Mills, a man of enduring perseverance, proposed the Senate Bill 143 again in 2015, which boldly advocated for the same reform as his previous bill. This time, Mills got the senate’s stamp of approval. “I’m just so thrilled for the people over the years who have called me and said, ‘my daughter epilepsy, my son has cancer,’” Mills said.
Although the bill hasn’t been made law yet, the state of Louisiana is already beginning to appoint government departments and officials to manage the new system. In charge of formulating the system is Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture, specifically the Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain. “We intend to be very open about the process and we are going to cross every ‘t’ and double-dot every ‘i’. I put together a team of people who I trust explicitly, who are highly qualified to do this. And they are working diligently,” Strain said of the forthcoming endeavor.
The Louisiana medical marijuana law only allows for medical marijuana to be administered in a pill form to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma or cerebral palsy. Although stricter than many other state’s medical marijuana policy, this bill’s principal objective is to provide patients with the medicine they’ve had a legal right to since 1991. In the upcoming months, Commissioner Strain will have to determine where cannabis will be grown, who will grow it, and chiefly, how much cannabis will appropriately provide Louisiana’s patients with a continuous supply of medicine. Strain has effectively undertaken the responsibility and hopefully Louisianans' faith in the commissioner’s capability to move this bill forward will be well-placed. With a last name like Strain, we think there couldn’t be anyone more fitting for the job.