Louisiana Gov. Jon Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday signed several cannabis-related bills into law, including allowing medical cannabis access for some out-of-state patients and providing prosecution protections for non-resident medical cannabis patients, allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis, excluding pipes used to smoke medical cannabis from the stat’s definition of drug paraphernalia, and a measure to require testing of consumable hemp products.
The medical cannabis-related bills come about a year after the first dispensaries opened in the state and the measures are meant to address problems that arose following the launch of the market and expand access to the program.
The bill allowing access for out-of-state patients includes provisions allowing individuals who are either short-term Louisiana residents or those who have been residents of the state for less than 30 days. It allows visitors with medical cannabis cards from other states to access medical cannabis in Louisiana. A separate measure provides protections for those patients.
The legislation allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis also allows psychologists to recommend patients to the state program.
Bel Edwards also signed a bill allowing the state Department of Health to regulate the industry and removing the Board of Medical Examiners and Department of Agriculture and Forestry from that role. The Board of Pharmacy will remain in its regulatory role under the new regime. The Health Department will also be allowed to charge and collect fees from the industry under the law.
The hemp testing bill signed by the governor requires that, at a confidence level of 95%, no more than 1% of the industrial hemp plants in each batch subject test above a total delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3% on a dry weight basis. The bill excludes some hemp plants from the testing program, including seed that has been certified by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, seed for hemp produced for grain or fiber, hemp being used for research, hemp grown by producers that have “consistently produced compliant industrial hemp plants over an extended period of time,” and from producers “growing immature industrial hemp plants produced from industrial hemp seed of known compliant varieties and the plants will be harvested prior to flowering,” according to the bill text.
Bel Edwards did not comment on the measures in his press release announcing that he has signed them into law.