Medical marijuana set to hit shelves next week; doctor goes over process to receive recommendation

WAFB's Austin Kemker sat down with Dr. Victor Chou, one of the state's approved physicians to...
WAFB's Austin Kemker sat down with Dr. Victor Chou, one of the state's approved physicians to recommend medical marijuana, to learn about the process patients have to go through to get the medication.(WAFB)
Updated: Aug. 2, 2019 at 6:18 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After several years of waiting, medical marijuana testing is complete and all that’s left is for it to hit the shelves for patients to pick up.

Before patients can pick it up though, they will need a recommendation from a state-approved physician such as Dr. Victor Chou.

"The average patient consultation with me takes about 60 minutes because there's a whole lot we need to do,” Chou said.

Dr. Chou says visiting his office is pretty much just like going to any other doctor’s office.

"Maybe get diagnosed with something that requires a medicine,” he said. “The doctor will write you a prescription and you take that prescription to a pharmacy and get your medicine. It's literally the exact same process for most medical marijuana patients."

He reviews the patient’s medical history and asks the patient a number of questions to see if medical marijuana is appropriate.

The state has only approved medical marijuana for 15 medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Seizure disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Spasticity
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Intractable pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

“One of the things that is especially important is getting to know what your symptoms are because that’s what we used medical marijuana mostly for is alleviation of symptoms, whether it’s chronic pain symptoms, whether it’s nightmares or anxiety related to PTSD, whether it’s weight loss or anorexia, or if you have Chrohn’s disease.”

Dr. Chou says in his office, a patient will spend anywhere from $500 to $900 per year for consultations. Without insurance covering medical marijuana, he says the patient must pay the entire cost.

“One factor that I’m a little worried about is the long-term costs,” he said. “Insurance largely does not cover the costs, so as time goes on, the out of patient costs to the patients in terms of medical marijuana product, hopefully that will go down.”

The medicine is expected to be available early next week.

Click here for more about which conditions qualify for medical marijuana.

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