Ohio has legalized recreational cannabis. Click HERE to learn more about cannabis business opportunities in Ohio.

How to Open a Dispensary in Louisiana

Overview

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 10, 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 HB620

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 are 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.

Cannabis bills for the 2023 Legislative Session in Louisiana include:

  • HB 17 aims to establish a framework for governing the adult consumption of cannabis.
  • HB 24 seeks to decriminalize possession and establish a regulated system for the distribution of cannabis for adult use. This bill serves as a companion to HB 17.
  • HB 612 introduces a 10% tax on licensed retail sales of cannabis and an additional 5% tax on wholesale sales, alongside the existing state and local sales taxes.
  • HB620 introduces a 15% tax on licensed retail sales of cannabis, to be enacted once cannabis is legalized under separate legislation.

You can find a comprehensive overview of all bills pertaining to cannabis policy here.

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.

This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • 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?
  • And more

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