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Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program Doctor Shortage Is Hurting Patients

Louisiana is home to an ample amount of awesome jazz, tasty Cajun food and historical architectural gems. But the Bayou State has a serious shortage of  when it comes to marijuana-friendly doctors, according to an alarming Associated Press report.

With about 10 months to go before the state’s medical marijuana program officially launches, only two — that’s right, TWO — doctors in a state of 4.6 million citizens have applied for permission to administer the herb. Should future patients be concerned that they will be unable to obtain their medicine. According the AP:

The pharmacist who sponsored the state’s 2015 and 2016 therapeutic marijuana laws said he’s not worried just yet.

Sen. Fred Mills, a St. Martin Parish Republican, hopes to see an uptick in permit requests from doctors early next year when the growing operations have started, medical marijuana sales are only months away, and patients start asking how they’ll get it.

“I feel that the people I’ve met, the 400 or 500 families of people who have the debilitating diseases, they are going to go to their physicians and say, ‘Please, I want to try this,’” Mills said.

Louisiana politicians agreed to a basic framework for the program in 2015. A series of roadblocks and compromises has slowed down the process — and the lack of medical professionals buying into the law could delay it even further.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, who signed the medical marijuana bill into law in May of 2016, insists that the state will adhere to “tight controls” for the program. But he has stated his desire to get the job done. And he cringes at the notion that families would be forced to leave the state in order to obtain medical marijuana.

“It simply is unacceptable to tell parents of kids that if they want to make them available to the kids the medicine recommended by their doctors to achieve some better quality of life — some reduction in pain — that they should have to move,” Edwards said at the time of last year’s bill signing.

Katie Corkern, a mother who is waiting for the day she can provide cannabis to her wheelchair-bound son who suffers from uncontrollable seizures, is frustrated by the delay.

“I’m obviously disheartened that it’s taking a long time and so many people in Louisiana are still having to suffer without this medicine. But I’m trying to be patient, because I want them to get it right the first time,” Corkern told the AP.

Corkern says Louisiana is “super-conservative, and doctors don’t want to be the first ones to jump in the pool, but I think it will grow. I’m confident that once the doctors do take this leap of faith in recommending it to their patients, other physicians will see the success in easing patients’ suffering.”

Under the state’s strict program, patients will be able to purchase cannabis in the form of medicinal oils, pills, sprays and topical applications. Dried herb for smoking remains illegal, even for patients.

People suffering from these conditions qualify for medical marijuana:

  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Muscular dystrophy,
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Seizure disorders/spasticity

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