The Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 11, passed a medical marijuana legislation designed to permit patients access to the drug almost 40 years after the state first legalized the drug.
The bill passed by a much more extensive margin than expected at 61-32, clearing the lower chamber after a series of personal appeals made by House members who urged fellow members to vote in favor. The bill now heads back to the Senate, where the upper chamber is expected to pass the bill that came out of the House with a relatively minor change.
"The wait was excruciating, but so worth it," said medical marijuana advocate Katie Corkern to NOLA.com. Corkern has been completely behind the legislation as she wants to treat her son Connor's epilepsy with the drug.
The extensive legislation seeks to provide a specific type of medical marijuana product, more specifically an oil pressed from the plant, that contains extremely low levels of the THC chemicals that make it a psychotropic drug. This allows for doctors to "recommend" the drug rather than prescribe it, which doctors need to avoid risking their DEA license allowing them to prescribe narcotics.
The bill had been the subject of extreme lobbying from both marijuana advocacy groups and parents of children, like Corken, who suffer from debilitating illnesses they believe could be treated with the drug.