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How to Open a Dispensary in Louisiana


Are you wondering how to open a cannabis dispensary in Louisiana? This page is dedicated to providing you with the most recent updates and relevant information regarding opening a cannabis business in Louisiana. This includes valuable insights into the state’s plans and upcoming developments.

In Louisiana, cannabis is allowed solely for medical purposes. Having 14 grams or fewer of cannabis for recreational use is not considered a criminal offense, but instead leads to a fine of not more than $100.

On April 10th, 2023, the 2023 session of the Louisiana State Legislature kicked off. Unfortunately, a sweeping bill, HB 24, seeking to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, tragically didn’t progress beyond the committee stage. The cannabis bills featured in the session include HB 17, HB 24, HB 612, and HB 620

On May 20th, 2024, the Louisiana House of Representatives rejected House Bill 978, which aimed to establish regulatory measures for marijuana in anticipation of potential adult-use legalization. Despite strong public support, the bill was defeated with 36 votes in favor and 58 against. However, on May 29th, the legislature passed two significant marijuana reform bills that are currently awaiting the governor’s approval. House Bill 165 decriminalizes marijuana paraphernalia, reducing penalties to a $100 fine. House Bill 391 allows pardons for individuals with past cannabis possession convictions without needing a recommendation from the Board of Pardons. These legislative actions reflect ongoing cannabis reform efforts in Louisiana.

How big is the opportunity?

The cannabis opportunity in Louisiana has been on the rise ever since the program commenced back in 2019. While projections can vary and rely on a multitude of factors, the approximate medical cannabis sales of $400 million by 2025 as noted in the MJBizFactbook, point towards a considerable chance for growth within the industry in the state.

Medical Marijuana in Louisiana

Louisiana first passed medical marijuana legislation in 1978 through Act No. 725, allowing its use for cancer and glaucoma patients. However, the Department of Health failed to implement the program. Another attempt was made in 1991 with Act No. 874 for glaucoma, chemotherapy patients, and those with spastic quadriplegia. The Department of Health missed the deadline to establish rules and their eventual implementation did not legalize medical marijuana.

In 2015, medical marijuana was once again legalized through Act No. 261 and a system for cultivation and distribution was established. The initial law listed the same three medical conditions as the 1991 Act. Amendments that followed added more eligible conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease. A list of qualifying conditions can be found here. Additionally, physicians can recommend medical marijuana for any condition they consider debilitating and are qualified to treat based on their medical education and training.

Medical Marijuana Program Opportunities 

Only pharmacies that possess a valid marijuana pharmacy permit issued by the Board of Pharmacy are allowed to dispense marijuana for therapeutic purposes. 

The operation of dispensaries in Louisiana is limited to specific regions designated by the Louisiana Department of Health. The state so far granted authorization for only nine locations to distribute medical cannabis.

Applications for a therapeutic marijuana pharmacy permit have currently closed since September 2022. We will update this section once applications open. However, while waiting, you can check out these factors taken into account by the Board’s Application Review Committee when evaluating applications:

  1. The assessment involves evaluation of the nature and appropriateness of the managing officer, the pharmacist-in-charge, all owners, and everyone who holds control or influence over the prospective marijuana pharmacy.
  2. When assessing the prospective location, factors such as number of local patients, demand for a dispensary in the area, proximity to existing or future dispensaries, and potential impact on sensitive places (like places of worship, schools, charitable institutions, hospitals, veterans’ homes, camps, and military establishments), are taken into account. 
  3. The evaluation includes determining the level of financial interest held by the applicant or any of the applicant’s owners in any other permittee, licensee, registrant, or other applicant currently or previously credentialed by the Board.
  4. Any other reasons provided by federal or state laws and rules that align with the enabling legislation or the Board’s rules are also considered.


Maryland Medical Cannabis License Types

  • Louisiana has two licensed medical marijuana manufacturers.
  • These manufacturers contract with third-party firms (permittees) to handle various aspects of the marijuana production process, including growth, processing, testing, and transportation.
  • To ensure quality and compliance, each batch of the product is tested by the permittee for purity and THC content levels.
  • Once the product is tested and accepted by the permittee, it can be transported to any of the ten licensed pharmacies/dispensaries in the state.
  • The licensed pharmacies/dispensaries are authorized to distribute medical marijuana to patients.
  • Patients can receive medical marijuana in approved dosage forms from these dispensaries, provided they have a valid recommendation from a board-certified Louisiana physician.

Recreational Use Legalization

Recreational cannabis remains prohibited in the state, but there has been a significant change in its legal status. Governor John Bel Edwards took action on June 15, 2021, by signing HB 652, a bill that decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana. As a result, individuals found with less than 14 grams of cannabis will not face imprisonment but rather a $100 fine for each instance, regardless of whether it is their first or subsequent offense.

For the 2023 legislative session in Louisiana, several cannabis-related bills were introduced, but not all progressed successfully:

  • HB 17 aimed to establish a regulatory framework for adult use of cannabis. However, it died in the House Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2023​.
  • HB 24, a companion to HB 17, sought to decriminalize possession and establish a regulated system for the distribution of cannabis for adult use. This bill also did not pass, dying in the Administration of Criminal Justice Committee on April 25, 2023​.
  • HB 612 proposed a 10% tax on licensed retail sales of cannabis and an additional 5% tax on wholesale sales. The funds were to be allocated to various state needs, including law enforcement, education, and addiction rehabilitation services. It did not progress past the committee stage​.
  • HB 620 suggested a 15% tax on licensed retail sales of cannabis, with the revenue divided among early childhood education, the court system, and the state general fund. Like the other bills, HB 620 did not advance beyond the committee phase​.

Several new cannabis bills were later introduced for the 2024 Legislative Session in Louisiana which include:

  • HB 54 focuses on regulating the cultivation, manufacture, and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products. It aims to increase the number of licenses for production facilities.
  • HB 649 proposes a statewide vote on the legalization of marijuana. If approved, the legislature would establish a statutory regulatory system for its sale and distribution, including setting sales taxes by August 2026.
  • HB 707 allows individuals to grow marijuana plants at home for personal use, provided they obtain a $75 annual permit. It also addresses transferring the management of cannabis programs from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to the Louisiana Department of Health.

As Louisiana’s cannabis program grows in scope, we will keep you informed of any news and legislation regarding opening a dispensary in Louisiana. Subscribe to our Cannabis Mailing List below to receive relevant news, including hard-to-find news and insights based on Louisiana Legalization.

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  • How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Louisiana?
  • How to get a marijuana business license and open a dispensary in Louisiana?
  • What special programs will be available to those looking to participate in Louisiana’s cannabis industry?
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