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Pharmacies overwhelmed following new medical marijuana law taking effect

New ‘smokable’ form of medical marijuana now legal in Louisiana
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The new law making smokable medical marijuana legal in Louisiana is getting lots of attention. Last week we talked to law enforcement about their concerns, but now, we’re hearing from suppliers who say there are more customers than products.

“People are excited about it. We’re trying to get through the rush right now,” James Thibodeaux, pharmacist and manager at Medicis Pharmacy, said. “It’s a nice change for the whole program.”

The flower, or “smokable” form of medical marijuana, became legal in the state on Jan. 1, 2022, and the Medicis staff says they were so overwhelmed in the first week that they temporarily put a halt on new orders.

“Everyone expected to get their products on day one - which we got through that rush. Things are getting better,” Thibodeaux said. “We’re learning as we go as well because it’s so new - from the growers to the pharmacies - the whole process is new, so we’re having to do a lot behind the scenes just to get to this point.”

Now, they’re taking orders again.

Medicis accepts orders through its website with doctor recommendations or through state telemedicine sites like TeleLeaf. Gary Hess, CEO of Teleleaf, says he acts as a “gatekeeper,” then patients go to a pharmacist to get the actual product.

“Then they go and meet with a licensed pharmacist at the nine pharmacies within Louisiana, and then, they will sit and they’ll do their initial intake. And then we’ll find those products that fit best for them,” Hess said.

Patients can also choose to go straight to the pharmacy for a recommendation and prescription.

“If you’re not comfortable with that, that’s what, you know, having a pharmacist and pharmacy techs in the building... We can help go over your medications, explain exactly how to adjust your dosing for your specific needs,” Thibodeaux said.

Thibodeaux said this won’t be a long-lasting delay.

“It’s just a matter of getting through the growing pains of a new program and all of the restrictions and all the testing - which are good for making sure you’re getting a good product that’s tested,” Thibodeaux said. “But once we get through this, I think it will be a lot smoother for patients.”

John Condos, owner of Medicis, agrees the safety will be worth the wait.

“It’s not safe to buy medication off the streets,” Condos said. “So when you come to Medicis Pharmacy, you’re getting something that is medical marijuana - that you know what you’re buying.”

Thibodeaux said they’re trying to keep the limit lower than the state requirement to ensure there’s enough available for those who need it.

He added that in the coming months, new strains of the flower will also be available. He also said that as they get more product, they will be able to lower the price of the flower.

At this point, Lake Charles has the lowest price of the flower in the state.

They will also be offering deliveries of the flower in the coming months to those in the state who don’t live close to a pharmacy.

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