Louisiana’s medical marijuana program is about to exponentially bigger, thanks to a House committee vote earlier this week. By an 8-4 vote, the committee agreed to add four new qualifying conditions for patients: chronic pain, PTSD, glaucoma and muscle spasms.
In 2016, the state passed a law allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat certain conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. By adding the four new ailments, it is expected the number of medical marijuana patients will skyrocket.
According to 2016 data, here are the top reasons registered patients give for cannabis treatment in all states that have programs:
- Chronic pain: 64.2 percent
- Muscle spasms: 13 percent
- Nausea: 6.3 percent
- Cancer: 5.8 percent
- PTSD: 4.2 percent
- Seizures/Epilepsy: 1.8 percent
- Glaucoma: 1 percent
- All other conditions: 3.6 percent
These numbers show that the Louisiana medical marijuana program will be available to 82 percent additional potential patients. The program is scheduled to launch in September.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
HB 579, sponsored by Rep. Edward James, D-Baton Rouge, met some debate before the vote. Opponents questioned whether there was enough medical research establishing medical marijuana as an effective treatment for people with chronic medical conditions.
The proposal appears to offer medical marijuana use as a possible alternative to prescription painkillers. It makes reference to opiate use in defining what would be considered “intractable pain,” or a state in which the cause of the pain “cannot be removed or otherwise treated with the consent of the patient … it is a pain so chronic and severe as to otherwise warrant an opiate prescription,” according to the bill.
Veterans hailed the plan, saying that medical marijuana could help thousands who are dealing with PTSD and chronic pain. Tom Landry, a veteran who suffers from chronic pain, spoke in favor of the plan. “I am here to advocate for other veterans who can get off of opioids,” Landry told the News-Picayune.
Rep. Dodie Horton, who voted against the bill, said she could not “support expanding a system, where we haven’t even begun testing the medications. You can testify here, that this magic potion will work. I just don’t believe. We don’t even have proof of the help it will give people.”
Horton, clearly, is out of touch with reality. During the committee deliberations, she referenced a satirical news article from The Daily Currant that claimed 37 people died on the first day recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in January 2014.