Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – The “smokable” form of medical marijuana is now legal in Louisiana under certain conditions. The new law went into effect Jan. 1 and is already raising questions.
It has local law enforcement saying they’re navigating through uncharted territory.
Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso says he understands marijuana is proven to help many illnesses, but it’s a controlled drug that has laws and guidelines that must be followed.
“We have to be very cautious and very careful in how we navigate through this in the future,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.
Mancuso says he and his deputies are watching closely as people take advantage of the new law.
Instead of treating it as an illegal drug, he says they will treat it like any other prescription drug.
“If you’re pulled over it’s gonna be like any other prescription drug. If you have just a loose pill, you can be arrested for that – especially if it’s a controlled substance,” Mancuso said. “So, all medications should be kept in their original bottles, with the prescription, with the name of the person who the medicine is for in their possession.”
It means driving under the influence will still result in a DWI.
“When a doctor prescribes something to you, there are certain medications that you can’t drive with, you can’t operate heavy machinery, and I would think that this would be labeled one of those drugs. As a matter of fact, I’m certain it is,” Mancuso said.
There are also limits on how much medical marijuana you can have.
“It’s 2 1/2 ounces every two weeks. So, if they’re caught with more than that, they obviously could get in trouble,” Mancuso said.
Gary Hess, CEO of Teleleaf – which helps get people their medical marijuana cards – says it’s not about getting high.
Instead, it’s to help those who have a debilitating condition.
“So, if you look up debilitating, it’s anything that causes you to be weak or infirm,” Hess said. “So, anything that causes you to really step outside of your normal routine during the day.”
Although, that doesn’t mean it will be okay with employers.
“Our policy is still going to stay the same,” Mancuso said. “I’m sure that people don’t want a policeman coming to their home who’s high or a reporter or a doctor or any other profession – our plant worker that could blow up a plant. So I think it goes along with any other controlled substance.”
There are nine pharmacies in Louisiana that offer medical marijuana, and after qualifying for a medical cannabis card, a pharmacist will help assess the type and dosage that is appropriate for each patient.
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