Louisiana Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Workers Who Use Medical Cannabis, Open Additional Dispensaries
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Louisiana Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Workers Who Use Medical Cannabis, Open Additional Dispensaries

The new laws take effect Aug. 1.

June 28, 2022

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation into law this month to protect workers who use medical cannabis and to allow the state to more than triple the number of dispensaries currently serving patients.

House Bill 988, sponsored by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, protects employees from being fired, as well as protects job candidates from being discriminated against, if they are registered medical cannabis patients.

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

The Louisiana House passed the H.B. 988 May 24 in a 60-32 vote, and the Senate approved it June 1 in a 26-8 vote.

RELATED: Louisiana Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Workers Who Use Medical Cannabis

Bel Edwards signed the legislation into law June 18 as Act 651, and it will take effect Aug. 1.

In addition, the Democratic governor signed House Bill 697 into law as Act 491 to more than triple the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state.

The legislation, which also takes effect Aug. 1, gives preference to existing license holders to open additional retail facilities.

The Senate approved an amended version of H.B. 697, sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, D-Houma, June 2 in a 22-12 vote, and the House concurred June 5 in an 83-17 vote.

RELATED: Louisiana Lawmakers Pass Medical Cannabis Expansion Bill

Louisiana launched medical cannabis sales in 2019, and there are currently nine dispensaries operating in the state.

The new law establishes nine regions for each of those license holders and directs the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to issue a 10th license to the region with the highest population density as of Aug. 1, 2022.

H.B. 697 also allows existing medical cannabis dispensaries in each region to open two additional storefronts in their regions when defined patient counts are met. A license holder may open a second dispensary after 3,500 active patients are identified in the state’s prescription monitoring program in a region, and can then open a third dispensary after both dispensaries are each serving 3,500 active patients.

If a license holder declines to open a third dispensary in its region, the law allows the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to issue an additional cannabis license in that region to a new licensee.

H.B. 697 allows the board to approve a maximum of 30 medical cannabis dispensaries.