BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Governor John Bel Edwards signed a new law Tuesday that will allow any doctor to recommend medical marijuana to any patient they believe it will help.
Under previous law, doctors could only prescribe medical marijuana for a list of 16 specific conditions.
“The list was very straight forward and strict about what would qualify,” said Dr. Victor Chou of the Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana.
Dr. Chou said the previous law was confusing for physicians. “Someone that had PTSD could qualify but someone who had anxiety could not.. so it was always a little confusing for us as physicians for as to why certain things were on the list and certain things were not.”
People who wanted to be prescribed medical marijuana under the previous law had to jump over several hurdles including multiple doctor visits to specific types of doctors.
“The more we learn about medical marijuana the more it can benefit large numbers of patients,” Dr. Chou said.
The first medical marijuana patient in Louisiana, Gary Hess advocates for legalization. Hess suffers from PTSD from his service in the military.
The veteran said the availability of medical marijuana is a matter of life or death for many veterans.
“Just like so many other marines who have served under me, it got to the point where they took their own lives with their own pharmaceutical medications prescribed to them by the VA,” Hess said.
Hess said the new law is a big win but there is progress to be made.
“There’s a lot… there are huge strides being made in Louisiana but we have a long way to go we are in the infancy of our program,” Hess said.