BATON ROUGE, La. (Apr. 26, 2016) – Last week, the Louisiana Senate passed a bill that would make a technical change to current law allowing doctors to provide recommendations for medical marijuana in the state.

Sen. Fred Mills Jr. introduced Senate Bill 271 (SB271) on Mar. 4. The legislation would start the state’s long-dormant marijuana law with a technical change in wording. By allowing doctors to “recommend” medical marijuana to eligible patients instead of “prescribing” the drug, some patients will finally be able to get access.

This language is important because with federal prohibition still in effect, “prescribing” cannabis could expose physicians to legal trouble. A written “recommendation” carries no such legal consequences for the individual doctors. The bill also adds more conditions to the list of “debilitating conditions” eligible for treatment with medicinal cannabis.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved the bill by a 21-16 vote on the second try. The initial vote fell short, but because several senators were out of the chamber. Sen. Mills worked to bring SB271 back onto the floor for a second vote,

According to a report, Sen. Mills made the following impassioned plea before the vote:

“We are a state that believes in what we do is state rights; well why are we waiting for the FDA? Why are we waiting on someone to help us when we have the ingenuity to do it ourselves.”.

Qualifying patients under SB271 are those who suffer from “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, severe muscle spasms, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.” This expanded list of qualifying conditions will permit more sick patients to receive their medicine, such as Alan Pesch and his son John.

Pesch described his son’s condition and how SB271 would be a game-changer for his family in a recent WWLTV report:

Alan Pesch of Baton Rouge said afterward his 12-year-old son John, who was in the Senate chamber during the vote, would benefit greatly from medical marijuana. John Pesch suffers from Crohn’s disease.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Pesch, who said the family of one of his son’s friends has moved to Colorado so the child could receive treatment from medical marijuana. “John is home schooled. This could open up his life.”

Under SB271, state universities would have until Sept. 1 to “provide written notice to the commissioner of agriculture and forestry of their intent to be licensed as a production facility, either separately or jointly.” Applicants to grow medical marijuana would need to provide a background check and fingerprints to state regulators before being eligible for a license. The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners would be tasked with regulating the medical marijuana program, and may suggest new qualifying illnesses in an annual report to the legislature.


The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.

“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.

As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the people and the states. By opening the market to limited marijuana use, this sets the foundation to nullify unconstitutional federal marijuana prohibition in effect.


The bill now must be approved by the House before it can be put on the Governor’s desk. It has been referred to the House Health and Welfare Committee, where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward.

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