Amid growing pains for Louisiana medical marijuana, advocates look to open up the market

For a moment, newly available medical marijuana flower was a hot commodity in Louisiana, drawing thousands of new patients and huge lines to the state’s nine authorized pharmacies. Then it was gone.

Pharmacies across the state reported supply disruptions less than two weeks after flower became available at the start of 2022. And patients have complained of high costs, long waits and caps on the amount they can buy.

Industry leaders say things will get better with time, as more supply becomes available and patient demand stabilizes. Despite shortages this week, a new batch is expected to hit the shelves soon after product cleared state testing Friday.

Still, legislative leaders and advocates are pushing for the state to break up the duopoly of growers and oligopoly of pharmacies and turn the program loose into the free market – or at least a freer one. Some are pointing to the growing pains of the past two weeks as evidence it’s time.

The push to license more pot businesses is the latest in a years-long effort to bring Louisiana’s medical marijuana program – once a tightly regulated product of negotiations with anti-marijuana law enforcement groups – more in line with those of other states. The addition of flower, the most popular form of the drug, which patients can smoke, was the biggest step yet. [Read more at The Advocate]

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