Medical marijuana patients formed lines at Louisiana’s nine Cannabis disensaries on Monday. It was the first day of the expansion of the state’s program to include raw, smokable flower as an option. Many patients, though, complained about the cost, reports the Daily Advertiser.
Until Monday the two legal growers — LSU AgCenter, Southern AgCenter and their private partners — could only produce processed Cannabis. They were limited to tinctures, topicals and edible gummies.
“It’s an exciting day. It feels like the first day again from August 2019 when the first products became available,” said John Davis of Good Day Farms. Good Day is LSU AgCenter’s private partner and grower.
‘So Many Patients Have Asked For This Day’
Capitol Wellness Solutions in Baton Rouge saw close to 500 people on their first day being able to sell smokable flowers of medical marijuana.
‘They Said It Would Be Cheaper, But It’s Not’
Louisiana dispensaries have been selling medical marijuana in tincture and topical forms as well as inhalers and edible gummies. The new law adds raw marijuana flowers in a smokable form that, because it involves less processing, is anticipated to be less expensive for patients.
Business was brisk at Delta MedMar, northeastern Louisiana’s cannabis pharmacy in West Monroe. But patients there said they were disappointed by the cost of the flower.
“They said it would be cheaper, but it’s not,” said Corbet King. He drove an hour from Wisner for his medicine. King said Cannabis helps both his pain from back and neck injuries suffered in a car wreck and his bipolar disorder.
“I’ve been waiting on the flower option,” King said. “But this more than double the street price [of illegal weed].”
“I feel like we were lied to,” King said.
Delta MedMar charged between $440 and $480 an ounce, according to prices provided to USA Today by two patients.
The cost for one-eighth ounce (3.5 grams) of flower ranged from $35 in Lake Charles to $80 in New Orleans.
‘Prices Are Going To Be More Affordable’
When the Louisiana Legislature voted last year to expand the program to include flower, one of the arguments was that it would be more affordable.
Inhaling smoke provides patients with faster relief — 5 to 10 minutes — compared to more like an hour for edible forms like gummies.
Davis said growers “are very focused on making sure the wholesale pricing is consistent with other states even though we aren’t yet a mature market. He said research shows if retail prices aren’t within 20% of unlicensed weed, most people will continue to buy from the illegal market.
But wholesale growers have no control over retail pricing by the dispensaries. And Louisiana’s medical marijuana law places no price controls on products.
Greg Morrison, one of the owners of Delta MedMar, said pricing will probably drop as the market matures.
“When there are more patients and more products, prices are going to be more affordable,” Morrison predicted.