On January 1, 2022, cannabis flower finally became available to Louisiana’s 10,000 registered medical marijuana patients. Patients and pharmacists are pleased with the newfound access. Now they’re hoping supply will increase to meet demand—and bring down those high prices.
Louisiana became the first Deep South state to legalize medical cannabis in limited forms back in 2016, but those forms were extremely limited. Smokeable flower was not allowed.
Now the Bayou State is allowing patients to find relief with the plant directly. Governor John Bel Edwards set the change into motion last summer by signing House Bill 391, which legalized the dispensing, purchasing, and usage of medical cannabis in flower form.
This is a big step forward, as cannabis flower represents roughly half of all product sales in most medical and adult-use states.
Medical marijuana access: How to find it
In order to receive a medical marijuana card, patients have to send their medical records to a Medical Cannabis Physician (who has to be licensed and in good standing) to determine their debilitating condition(s), schedule a consultation appointment (via telehealth or in-person), and receive a medical recommendation from their physician.
Consultation appointments cost around $200 and are not covered by health insurance due to the continuing federal prohibition of cannabis in all forms.
We interviewed a few medical marijuana professionals and patients to get their insight, thoughts, and sentiments regarding the legalization and dispensing of medical flower.
Medical flower success stories
According to Dr. Victor Chao, founder of the Medical Marijuana Clinic in Baton Rouge, an overwhelming majority of his patients are happy to have medical flower approved as another method of administration. Patients who were unable to afford other methods of medical cannabis are now able to purchase medical flower.
“There are so many patients that are doing so well on cannabis that it actually surprises us when there are patients that aren’t doing well,” Chao told Leafly.
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Patients with more than one diagnosis are now able to utilize medical cannabis in various forms. The addition of cannabis flower comes at a time when more patients are reaching out to state-certified physicians to ask about medical marijuana.
More patients, more improvement
Dr. Penny Sue Walker, co-founder of Louisiana Medical Marijuana Doctors clinic in New Orleans, said she was seeing two to four patients a day in 2019. Now she’s consulting with 30 to 40 patients a day. She’s seen many of her patients’ medical conditions improve because of their usage of medical cannabis.
Medical professionals have stated that their patient age groups range from toddlers to seniors who are in their 90s. “I have autistic children that are talking that never talked before marijuana,” Walker said. “I have cancer survivors who were sent home to hospice to die who are still alive.”
Early days, limited supply, this is normal
Cannabis flower can now legally be purchased at Louisiana’s state-licensed medical marijuana pharmacies, but in these early days patients may run into a shortage of flower supply. This is not unusual. It will take some time for the state’s limited number of growers to catch up to the patient demand.
As of early 2022, nine medical marijuana pharmacies (what other states call dispensaries) are licensed to dispense medical marijuana in Louisiana. There are only two authorized agriculture centers (Louisiana State University-GB Sciences of Louisiana, and Southern University-Advanced Biomedical) licensed to grow the cannabis plants that are expected to supply medicine to the entire state.
“We don’t have as much product as other states,” Walker acknowledged. According to state law, patients are able to obtain 2.5 ounces of flower every two weeks from their pharmacist. But due to the flower shortage, pharmacies are currently unable to dispense such amounts. One medical patient shared with us that there was only shake left on her first trip to a Louisiana medical marijuana pharmacy.
Patients are hoping that state authorities will consider opening up the cannabis growing opportunities to local farmers, which would help alleviate the current shortage.
Pricing and accessibility are two other limitations Louisiana faces. Due to the limited number of dispensaries, some medical patients are forced to drive more than an hour and then wait in a four-hour line to obtain their prescription.
Prices are high now, but may come down
In Louisiana, there seems to be a 50-50 outlook on the current pricing of flower. According to Dr. Chao, half of his patients are fine with the pricing, while another half are concerned with the current prices.
Our patient interviewee (who happens to be a medical cannabis nurse) said she found local flower prices expensive compared to other states. She’s a member of various Louisiana medical cannabis patient groups on Facebook, and a majority of the members shared similar concerns about flower prices. A medical professional specializing in cannabis informed us that one gram can cost as low as $12, while an eighth can cost as low as $35.
A quick check of prices found most Louisiana pharmacy eighths selling in the $50 to $70 range, which is expensive. In New Jersey, one of America’s priciest medical marijuana markets, flower eighths sell within a $40 to $60 range.
Members of the Louisiana Veterans for Medical Cannabis Facebook group were even in the talks of planning a boycott in early January because of flower prices.
Medical professionals understand the competition that they face with the illicit cannabis market and are hoping to further efforts and conversations around lowering the prices of medical flower in Louisiana.
Louisiana prices as of Jan. 2022
|Mandarin Cookies (Hybrid)||Mandarin Zkittles (Indica Hybrid)||Grease Monkey Flower (Indica Hybrid)||Grease Monkey Popcorn (Indica Hyrbid)|
|Gram: $15||Gram: $20||Gram: $22||Gram: $20|
|Eighth: $50||Eighth: $60||Eighth: $70||Eighth: $50|
|Quarter Ounce: $105||Quarter Ounce: $125|
|Half Ounce: $190||Half Ounce: $225|
Growers expanding to meet the demand
Good Day Farm, the state’s largest medical cannabis producer, is relocating its facility from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to a 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Rustin, Louisiana to solve the flower shortage and meet the high demands of medical patients. Good Day Farm, which partners with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, plans to cultivate over 120 medical hybrid strains that will produce around 5,700 pounds of flower per month during their three-phase expansion project.
There is talk of a delivery service starting very soon for Southwest Louisiana area patients. The delivery service will assist those who are unable and/or inaccessible to travel to the dispensaries.
There are several national companies attempting to get involved in Louisiana’s medical cannabis ventures, but physicians are encouraging patients to support local. One patient told Leafly, “I really wish Louisiana would look at the models of other states’ success stories to bring it here, so patients can have more access.”
Find a medical marijuana pharmacy near you
Louisiana’s nine licensed medical marijuana pharmacies are listed here:
- Region 1 ~ Metropolitan – H & W Drug Store, Inc. d/b/a H & W Drug Store, located at 1667 Tchoupitoulas Street, Suite B in New Orleans, La. 70130-1852. Telephone: (504) 301-2363.
- Region 2 ~ Capitol – Capitol Wellness Solutions, LLC d/b/a Capitol Wellness Solutions, located at 7491 Picardy Avenue in Baton Rouge, La. 70809-3536. Telephone: (225) 800-9420.
- Region 3 ~ Teche – Green Leaf Dispensary, LLC d/b/a Green Leaf Dispensary, located at 6048 W. Park Avenue in Houma, La. 70364-1808. Telephone: (985) 360-3372.
- Region 4 ~ Acadian – The Apothecary Shoppe, LLC d/b/a The Apothecary Shoppe, located at 620 Guilbeau Road, Suite A in Lafayette, La. 70506-8709. Telephone: (337) 345-4500.
- Region 5 ~ Southwest – Medicis, LLC d/b/a Medicis, located at 1727 Imperial Blvd., Building 4 in Lake Charles, La. 70605-5362. Telephone: (337) 420-8420.
- Region 6 ~ Central – The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, LLC d/b/a The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, located at 403 Bolton Avenue in Alexandria, La. 71301-7026. Telephone: (318) 545-4460.
- Region 7 ~ Northwest – Hope Pharmacy, LLC d/b/a Hope Pharmacy, located at 1410 Kings Highway, Suite A in Shreveport, La. 71103-4227. Telephone: (318) 585-0420.
- Region 8 ~ Northeast – Delta Medmar, LLC d/b/a Delta Medmar, located at 111 McMillan Road in West Monroe, La. 71291-5319. Telephone: (318) 855-3373.
- Region 9 ~ Southeast – Willow Pharmacy, LLC d/b/a Willow Pharmacy, located at 1519 Highway 22 West, Suite 5 in Madisonville, La. 70447-9489. Telephone: (985) 792-2391.