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Cannabis Law in Louisiana: Introduction

An overview of the state of Cannabis Law in Louisiana

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Hemp in Louisiana

Hemp is a variety of cannabis related to marijuana.  It has many industrial uses and can be used as a fiber to make fabric.  For many years the Federal government heavily restricted the cultivation of hemp due to its relation to marijuana.  The Federal Farm Bill of 2018 allowed for the commercial production of hemp.  Louisiana has created it's own laws related to the cultivation of hemp.  It has been specifically de-criminalized by Revised Statute 40:961.1.

There are numerous laws and regulations related to the cultivation of industrial hemp.  The statutes relating to industrial hemp in general are in Revised Statutes 3:1461-73.  In 2022, the Legislature created an Industrial Hemp Promotion and Research Program to support the growth and development of the hemp industry in Louisiana. It's available at 2022 La. Acts No. 462.  

Hemp is frequently processed to extract cannabidiol, or CBD, which is included in many consumer products like supplements, drinks, and even lotions.  Louisiana prohibits the sale of certain types of consumable hemp products (alcoholic beverages, inhalables) and requires a permit to sell other consumable hemp products.  The laws regarding consumable hemp can be found in Louisiana Revised Statutes 3:1481-85. Louisiana also taxes any consumable hemp products in Revised Statues 47:1692-96

In addition to the statutes, there are various regulations. Most of those regulations are in Title 7 of the Louisiana Administrative Code, the title that regulates agriculture.  There are also regulation regarding the taxation of hemp in Title 61.  Consumable hemp products are also regulated under Title 49 where food, drugs, and cosmetics are regulated under the state's public health authority.  

Marijuana in Louisiana

Louisiana passed its first law allowing medical marijuana in 1978.  Yes, 1978, in Act No. 725.  The original Act provided medical marijuana for patients with cancer and glaucoma, and instructed the Department of Health to source the substance.  They never did so.

A second attempt was made in 1991, in  Act No. 874.  This version allowed use for glaucoma, those undergoing chemotherapy, and those with spastic quadriplegia.  The Department of Health was given a deadline to promulgate rules to implement this, which they did in 1994, two years after their deadline, in a way that did not in fact legalize marijuana for medical use.  

Finally in 2015, in 2015 La. Acts 261, marijuana for medical use was once again legalized, and a system was set out for the cultivation and distribution to those with medical needs.  The original Act only listed the same three medical conditions as the 1991 Act.  Additional Acts amending the law to add more eligible medical condition were passed long before the first legal plant was grown in Louisiana.  As of 2022, there are 30 specific conditions listed, as well as "Any condition not otherwise specified in this Subparagraph that a physician, in his medical opinion, considers debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified through his medical education and training to treat."

Marijuana is still criminal in Louisiana unless it is prescribed for medical use.  You can be arrested for possession, distribution, or using marijuana in a motor vehicle

There are also many regulations in Louisiana regarding medical marijuana issues by various state agencies.  The Department of Agriculture regulates how marijuana is grown in Title 7 of the Louisiana Administrative Code.  You can find those regulations here, down in Part XLIX.

There are also regulations regarding pharmacists (in Part LIII) and prescribing medical professionals (in Part XLV) that are in Title 46 with the rest of the professional and occupational standards.

Finally, there are regulations in the Public Health Sanitary Code in Part XXIX.  You can find those regulations here.  

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