If you want to serve patients with all available options for therapeutic cannabis, you can’t ban smokable varieties. While there is a split between people who support (and prefer) Louisiana smokable flower. And people who say it is harmful, there is no denying what patients like.
Excluding edibles, smokable cannabis, raw or whole flower is precisely what the majority of patients want. And there are many practical reasons for this. What legislators often misunderstand is that smokable doesn’t directly equate to ‘party drug’ for recreational purposes. Patients get benefits from traditional bud that they can’t get through other intake methods.
There was not much debate over whether or not Louisiana patients should have access to whole-flower or smokable cannabis. The Louisiana House voted in favor with a 76-17 vote, led by Republican Representative Tanner Magee. The Louisiana Senate approved the measure with a 23-14 vote, according to Akemi Briggs, for Fox 15.
Now it looks like Louisiana lawmakers agree that patients in the medical cannabis program should have the option of smokable raw cannabis. But what were some of the factors that made Louisiana pivot in their decision to allow smokable cannabis?
Fixing What’s Wrong By Allowing Louisiana Smokable Flower
Louisiana is a state that has struggled to establish its medical cannabis program. States that ban or prohibit smokable varieties or offer only low-THC cannabis often experience the same problems. Texas is one of those states. But it failed to impress patients and advocates with a much-hyped but underwhelming expansion of the Texas medical cannabis program.
Minnesota has also been another state that has struggled, thanks to a ban on smokable varieties of medical marijuana. But in May 2021, lawmakers and the Governor of Minnesota (Tim Walz) moved to end the ban on smokable varieties.
Residents want higher potency smokable cannabis, to cope with symptoms like pain, anxiety, inflammation, and other conditions. And if they can’t get it through legal channels, that leaves only one alternative. Black market weed. It negates one of the peripheral benefits of legalized medical marijuana; to put a dent into cartel and illegal drug activity.
But suppressing illegal drug activity is just one reason why states decide to allow smokable cannabis. There are four other motivations for state legislators.
1. Smokable Cannabis is More Affordable
When a cannabis product requires extraction, it substantially increases the cost per ounce or gram. Extraction processes to create vape oil and tinctures are expensive. And that cost is passed on to the end user-patient.
Since whole flower is only cultivated and trimmed, the production costs are far lower. And that means affordability for patients who want to use it on a daily basis to help with symptom management.
2. Inhaled Cannabis is Fast-Acting
The only other method of cannabis intake that acts more quickly, to potentially provide relief for a patient is a tincture. Sublingual uptake involves a couple of drops of cannabis oil under the tongue. The tissue in that area of the mouth is thin and close to a network of veins that allow for rapid absorption into the bloodstream.
Inhaled cannabis is fast-acting too. Both the psychoactive and the physical effects can be generally felt within a few minutes. And that is important for an individual who is suffering debilitating muscle spasms, or chronic pain. It can provide relief much faster than other methods.
3. Higher Terpene Content
Terpenes are present in all plant life on the planet. And many terpenes can offer medicinal benefits that impact wellness in a positive way. Cannabis bud that is grown indoors has a higher terpene content than outdoor-grown cannabis. That is because the temperature (heat) control for greenhouse plants is better. And helps preserve more terpenes.
When cannabis products are processed into an oil or decarboxylated to create an edible, much of the natural terpene content is lost. So, patients who want to benefit from anti-inflammatory, or aromatherapeutic terpenes prefer smoking raw cannabis. Flavonoids are also protected, so cannabis has a more pleasant and rich taste as well.
Patients who want to vaporize in a controlled method (tabletop vaporizer or mask) can set temperatures to 310 – 330 Fahrenheit. That both releases the THC content and psychoactive elements of cannabis, while also protecting more of the terpene content.
When Will Smokable Flower Be Available in Louisiana?
Patients enrolled in the Louisiana medical marijuana program will have to wait until January 2022, to get smokable varieties. For six months, licensed growers will have to both cultivate, test and third-party test raw cannabis strains before they can be available in a dispensary for patients to purchase.
While Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was supportive of the legalization of smokable cannabis (HB 391) for patients, he is against adult use. He has stated that he will not be the state leader to enact recreational marijuana laws in Louisiana. But Gov. Bel Edwards does expect it will happen soon.
The legislation to legalize adult use in LA stalled in the House of Representatives, because leaders could not agree on taxation of recreational weed. It is likely to progress in the next 2021/2022 state legislative session.
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