What: Medical Marijana
A film by: Documentarian AJ Dazee
Editor’s Note: NolaVie partners with students at UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum that results in a short documentary. In this video, AJ Dazee interviews Keith Pittman about the history and upcoming changes to the legalization of medical marijuana in Louisiana. He investigates the current rules, regulations, and reasons why there is increasing support regarding its use. Keith argues that the legalization of marijuana could improve the lives of many people in Louisiana and benefit their economy.
[Read the full transcript of the video below]
My name is Keith Pittman. I’m one of the owners of a clinic in the state of Louisiana called Louisiana Medical Marijuana Doctors Clinic LLC. Medical marijuana became legal in the state of Louisiana over two years ago. It’s one of 37 states that have some form of legalization of marijuana, unlike many other states where it’s recreational, it’s only for medical purposes.
Louisiana is probably, of the 37 states, one of the most restrictive states. There are only two growers in the state of Louisiana, the Louisiana State University Agriculture Department and the Southern University Agriculture Department. There are only nine dispensers throughout the state of Louisiana; they’re called regions.
The nine regions are New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, West Monroe, Shreveport, and Madisonville. Those are the nine dispensers. I think I’m missing one Houma, Houma Louisiana. Houma, that’s the ninth dispensary. So they’re the only ones that can actually sell medical-grade marijuana. The growers are regulated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. The dispensaries are regulated by the Louisiana Border Pharmacy and the clinics are regulated by the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners.
You actually have to be a licensed doctor in the state of Louisiana to write a recommendation for medical marijuana within the first year of implementation. It was very restrictive, there are limited conditions in order for you to qualify in the state of Louisiana. You have to be a Louisiana resident, and you have to have what’s considered by the state of Louisiana a debilitating condition. It was only a few debilitating conditions when it first started. After one year though, the legislature found it was being so successful that they decided to open it up to numerous other debilitating conditions.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law this morning that will expand Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. NBC local 33’s Abby Rocha explains how that program will change moving forward. Edwards signed off on a law that will allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to any patient they believe it will help. Patients who have already seen the positive effects of the drug say it’s about time and as a result, we’ve seen a large growth in the medical marijuana program.
Over the past two years the National Marijuana Business Trade Publication, the number of patients getting medical marijuana in Louisiana, has grown from over two thousand to over fourteen thousand. One of the new things for deliverable methods now in the state of Louisiana is tincture subliminal tissues that go up under the tongue. The state of Louisiana’s approved gummies. They’ve also reproduced oil, Rick Simpson oil, and they also have topicals for joint pain for people with chronic arthritis and vape pens or metered-dose inhalers, which is the technical term. Those are the approved products in the state of Louisiana. Now, come January 2022 the state of Louisiana will have flour available or bud. Right now, the legislature is in the process of determining what that’s going to look like, and with the introduction of flour, sales are projected to double to around 100 million dollars next year and 400 million by 2025.
Since this inception, you’ve seen a lot of people accept medical marijuana as a true medicine, cannabis as true medicine. We all have an endocannabinoid system, naturally, and what that THC does is help enhance our cannabinoid system. A lot of older people you see with chronic pains, anxiety, etc. Those are the people who are the patients, who are actually benefiting from medical marijuana. Cancer patients who go through chemotherapy; a lot of them are using it because when you have cancer and take the chemo you don’t have an appetite. It really helps them get that appetite.
One of the biggest cases that we’ve seen was our former Governor Kathleen Blanco. When she passed, they asked her family after she died what the last three weeks of her life were like during her return to medical marijuana as a medicine. As a result, the former governor got an appetite back, she planned her funeral, she ate her favorite food, and she celebrated her anniversary. Now, it didn’t cure her cancer but for the family the quality of life that it gave her for the last three weeks, that’s something that’s irreplaceable. And they’ve been thankful for the medical marijuana program.
And so, when you hear stories like this: kids with autism a little more vocal, people with seizures who are no longer having as many seizures and see how a lot of people are getting their lives back, you’ll see the reason why a lot of people are turning to cannabis as a medicine. As far as the pricing right now, the pricing is a little bit expensive, but I truly believe through time it’ll come down. I equate that to like the flat-screen TV when they first came out. The first flat-screen TV was ten thousand dollars. I don’t know if you all remember but I remember that and now you can get a flat-screen TV for about two hundred dollars. That’s the same thing with cannabis, the first time it came out it was very expensive. Within the two years, I’ve actually seen it go down and I think it’s going to go down further once there are a larger variety of deliverable methods and more patients that participate in the program. Then, I think the pricing will take care of itself.
Unfortunately, right now, because it’s federally illegal, that’s why a lot of insurance does not cover it. It is an out-of-pocket cost and once it becomes federal it is hopeful that the insurance company will pick this up like they pick any other medicine up to insure. I encourage everyone to just not take my word for it. Do their due diligence and look and research cannabis, what is doing for people with different debilitating and healing conditions, and see how this helps. Do your research, get your testimony to call the dispensaries, and call the pharmacist. You know Louisiana medical marijuana doctors pride themselves on fast friendly customer service. If you have any needs you can check us out at www.lamedicalmarijuanadoctors.com. I know that’s long we didn’t think about it at the time but it works it’s www.lamedicalmarijuanadoctors.com.