The changing state of pot in Louisiana

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NEW ORLEANS—NOLA resident “Jeffrey” is a marijuana connoisseur. Jeffrey is not his real name, but according to a recent UNO study, he’s among the 55% of registered voters in Louisiana that favor legalizing recreational use of pot.

Just as medical marijuana is now closely monitored for patients, Jeffrey sees legalization as a potential safety measure.

“Now you’re having a way that’s regulated that you know everyone is getting the best quality of it. It’s the same quality that are being prescribed by doctors,” according to Jeffrey.

Of the two bills in the state legislature, HB 391 allows for the flower or bud of the plant to be prescribed medically, joining a host of already existing methods of use like creams or oil.

That bill passed the state house last night and is headed to the senate. The other bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Nelson of Mandeville seeks to set up parameters for the recreational use dispensaries.

According to prescribing physician Julie Johnson, this is long overdue, “I feel there is such a bigger problem with the opioids and there’s such a bigger problem with the alcohol, I would much rather have someone behind the wheel using cannabis than opioids.

Keith Pittman operates the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Doctors Clinic and he says that one reason that the tide may be turning in our state is the demographic of the people who are being helped by the drug.

Pittman says, “It’s mostly older people with chronic pain who’ve tried other medicines and have decided to try medical marijuana for them.”

Pittman also sees the current bills in the state legislature as being good for business as a result of the public education as well.

“The more that it’s being exposed that it is a positive that it could be a benefit, I think it will help, even with recreational, said Pittman.”

One major selling point to legislators is a potential tax dollars generated by legalizing pot.

Jeffrey’s messages to the legislators is a simple one, “It would be irresponsible to not take advantage from an economic standpoint of what’s happening already.”

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