Medical Cannabis A Potential Money-Spinner For Louisiana

Medical cannabis tax revenue - Louisiana
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As well as potentially helping more than a hundred thousand people; medical marijuana could bring millions into the U.S. state of Louisiana’s government coffers –  if the state gets with the program so to speak.

A recent Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) study estimates between USD $8.16 million and $13.36 million in annual revenue could be generated in Louisiana by introducing a four percent sales and use tax on medical cannabis products; assuming it expands its program.

Based on available data and reasonable assumptions, MPG estimated there are between 3,900 and 4,700 patients using medical marijuana in the state currently.

Louisiana has very narrow qualifying criteria for use of medical cannabis at present. It is only permitted for patients with glaucoma, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and people with spastic quadriplegia. A four percent sales and use tax on the consumption of these groups would only generate $0.5 – $0.6 million.

But if the number of qualifying conditions were expanded to include those currently being considered and also included chronic pain; up to 105,000 patients may end up participating in such a program and the state could reap the higher end of the scale – $13.36 million annually.

The study report can be viewed here.

While Louisiana adopted legislation to permit the therapeutic use of cannabis way back in 1978, its current laws have faced some significant  issues that have made things pretty much unworkable.

For example, under current state legislation a doctor’s prescription is required for a patient to legally possess and consume medical marijuana – however, under federal law doctors can’t prescribe it.

Legislation introduced earlier this week by Rep. Ted James (D–Baton Rouge) seeks to address this and other issues.

HB 1112 – the Louisiana Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act – will enable patients to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of therapeutic cannabis from regulated establishments (e.g. dispensaries) during a 14-day period.

The bill also provides legal protection for patients, medical professionals, approved manufacturers and other regulated establishments involved with medicinal cannabis; such as testing facilities.

The bill envisions the Department of Health commencing the issue of registry identification cards to qualifying patients in October this year, assuming the legislation passes muster.

A good summary of the proposed Louisiana Therapeutic Use Cannabis Act can be viewed here.