With medical marijuana legal, Louisiana doctors debating what qualifies

With medical marijuana legal, Louisiana doctors debating what qualifies
Dr. Jay Marion helped push the legislation through in 2015 to make Medical Marijuana legal in Louisiana

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Multiple Louisiana bills involving medical marijuana use will have to get past the Committee of Health and Welfare before they are able to reach the House.

Both HB 627 (Rep. Rodney Lyons) and HB 579 (Rep. Edward James) involve lengthening the list of diagnosis that qualifies for a marijuana recommendation.

Dr. Jay Marion is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the LSU School of Medicine and specifies in Oncology. He's been seeing patients for the last 40 years.

Dr. Marion says the problem with some of the language in the proposed bills is they aren't specific enough and can't be easily diagnosed.

"How do I diagnose chronic pain? If you came in right now and said you have knee pain and your knee has hurt for 20 years and no doctor has been able to treat it effectively, how do I prove that you have knee pain? So that becomes a slippery slope where I think the legislators are going to have to revisit with the physicians," said Marion.

Dr. Marion helped write the legislation to legalize medical marijuana back in 2015 but says he still can't technically "prescribe" it.

Marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug in the eyes of the DEA, meaning it can only be "recommended" by a doctor since it's still an illegal substance by federal law.

"We have to tell a patient if you're caught with it, it doesn't matter if I recommended it or not. The state may look the other way, but the federal government may not. And that's one of the problems is not having a cohesive program across the country."

Three pharmacies in Shreveport are currently vying for a permit to be allowed to sell medical marijuana to patients.

Dr. Marion says while he knows many Louisiana residents may be skeptical of marijuana for recreational use, medical use will no doubt help those in need.

"I know other states have recreational, but that's between the citizens of that state and their government. But from a medical standpoint, I would say Louisiana has done it right."

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