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Louisiana Bill Would Protect Medical Marijuana Patients

HB 988 protects state employees from negative consequences if their doctor authorizes medical marijuana under state law

Leafy Green Agency

The Louisiana House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on Thursday unanimously advanced a bill that would protect state employees who legally use medicinal Cannabis.

Democratic Rep. Mandie Landry of New Orleans sponsors House Bill 988, reports LSU Manship School News Service. It protects state employees from negative consequences if their doctor authorizes medical marijuana in accordance with state law.

The bill shields state employees who use medical marijuana from being fired. It also protects job applicants from being discriminated against for medical Cannabis.

The bill would not apply to law enforcement, firefighters or other public safety officials.

“This Has Proved To Be A Better Option”

There are more than 43,000 medical marijuana patients in the state, according to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. The first medicinal Cannabis dispensaries in the state opened in 2019.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to take opioids for their long-term PTSD and pain management because of the high possibility of addiction to opioids,” Rep. Landry said. “This has proved to be a better option than them.”

Jacques Berry, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Administration, said his department protects its workers from discrimination based on medical marijuana use. Berry said that the bill would create uniform policies across all state agencies.

“This Is A First Step”

Rep. Ed Larvadain, an Alexandria Democrat, praised the bill. “We’re going to have to change how we deal with medical marijuana,” Larvadain said. “But this is a first step.”

Larvadain asked Landry to work with him in the future to find a way to protect police and firefighters as well.

“A lot of those men and women have chronic pains because over the years they’ve had to climb through windows and police officers have been abused,” Larvadain said.

“We Need To Leave No Employee Behind”

Several medical marijuana advocates testified in support of the bill.

Tony Landry, with Veterans Action Council, said law enforcement officers and firemen can’t even take CBD, a chemical found in marijuana. He said that’s because “it can accumulate in your body over time and cause a positive test. I’m in favor of this bill, and I just think we need to leave no employee behind.”

Kevin Caldwell of the Marijuana Policy project said Louisiana has an opioid problem. “We are seeing that for a lot of patients, medical cannabis is an exit strategy.”

No members of the public spoke in opposition to the bill.

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