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Medical Marijuana and Employee Rights in Louisiana

Louisiana has been steadily advancing in its journey to integrate the use of medical marijuana into its healthcare landscape. This forward-thinking initiative, known as the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program, has grown into an essential element of the state's healthcare system, providing a natural and holistic alternative to patients dealing with various medical conditions.


employee rights with medical cannabis

This program, regulated by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Department of Health, has allowed qualified patients to possess and use medical marijuana under the guidance of a state-licensed physician. But beyond providing this access, the program has spurred a broader dialogue regarding the rights of individual patients who now carry a medical marijuana card and how these rights intersect with various facets of life, including employment.


Today, we turn our focus to the complex, yet vital conversation surrounding medical marijuana and employee rights in the state of Louisiana. Understanding the intersection of medical cannabis use and employment laws is crucial not just for the patients seeking relief from chronic pain, muscular dystrophy, severe muscle spasms, or other qualifying conditions, but also for employers striving to maintain a fair, safe, and legally compliant workspace.


In a state where Baton Rouge has witnessed the signing of the pivotal House Bill that brought the medical marijuana program to life, it is important for every resident of Louisiana, from New Orleans to Lake Charles, to comprehend their rights under this state law. Whether you're a medical marijuana patient battling an autism spectrum disorder, a medical marijuana doctor providing care, or an employer maintaining a workforce, knowledge of Louisiana law is key.


From discussing the legal protections given to patients, to examining the roles of medical professionals and the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, to exploring forms of medical cannabis from metered-dose inhalers to gelatin-based chewables, this blog aims to provide a comprehensive overview of medical marijuana and employee rights in Louisiana. So, whether you're visiting a dispensary for the first time or you're a long-standing cardholder, join us as we delve into this fascinating topic.


Understanding the Medical Marijuana Program in Louisiana


The Louisiana medical marijuana program is regulated by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Department of Health. These bodies ensure the distribution of medical marijuana in its acceptable forms to individual patients who have obtained their medical marijuana card. The program was made official under the House Bill, signed in Baton Rouge, that aimed to help patients in need of alternative treatments for chronic pain and various other conditions.


Medical marijuana patients in Louisiana can access their cannabis in a variety of forms, available today in state-licensed dispensaries. These forms include metered-dose inhalers, gelatin-based chewables, cannabis tinctures, transdermal patches, and a concentrated extract in a distillate syringe for oral administration.


To qualify for the program, the state of Louisiana has specified certain qualifying conditions. These include severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, Parkinson's disease, Crohn's disease, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other severe, debilitating medical conditions. Furthermore, recent changes to the Louisiana law have expanded the list of eligible medical conditions to include autism spectrum disorder and conditions requiring palliative or hospice care.


The Role of Medical Professionals


Obtaining a medical marijuana card in Louisiana involves a specific process. A recommending physician, who maintains good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners and has received appropriate medical education regarding therapeutic marijuana, must give their approval. In some cases, a pediatric subspecialist is needed for patients under the age of 18. These doctors play an essential role in the medical marijuana program, providing the necessary authority for individual patients to participate.


medical marijuana prescription

The doctor's recommendation is a crucial part of the application for a medical marijuana card. Only a state-licensed physician can provide this, thus, it is essential to find a medical doctor with years of experience and a clear understanding of Louisiana's medical marijuana laws and the benefits of the form of medical cannabis best suited to the patient's condition.


Patient Rights, Legal Protections, and Employment Law Concerning Medical Marijuana in Louisiana


The state of Louisiana has implemented a framework that extends certain rights and legal protections to medical cannabis patients. This framework, while maintaining its commitment to the safety and wellness of the public, also addresses the concerns and rights of individuals who use medical cannabis under the guidance of a healthcare provider.


In particular, the interplay of medical marijuana use and employment has been a critical area where these legal protections apply. Understanding these rights and protections is essential for both patients and employers, to promote a harmonious balance between medical necessity and workplace integrity.


Exploring the Rights of Medical Cannabis Patients in Louisiana


In the state of Louisiana, the rights of medical cannabis patients have been notably recognized and protected under state law. The foundation of these rights is laid out in the Louisiana medical marijuana program, a comprehensive framework that governs the use, distribution, and possession of medical marijuana in the state.


Under Louisiana law, patients who receive a doctor's recommendation and successfully obtain a medical marijuana card, officially known as a registry identification card, are accorded significant legal protections. These protections, underpinning the medical marijuana program, ensure that patients can confidently access and use their prescribed medical marijuana to manage their qualifying medical conditions without fear of legal repercussions at the state level.


Notably, these protections apply regardless of the contrasting federal law. Despite cannabis being classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law - a category reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use - the state of Louisiana has taken a divergent stance. Recognizing the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis, the state provides registered patients immunity from prosecution for the possession and use of medical marijuana.


This immunity means that patients following their authorized clinician's recommendations can use medical marijuana in its various acceptable forms, including metered-dose inhalers, gelatin-based chewables, and cannabis tinctures, without facing criminal prosecution under state law. This protection is particularly important given the diverse range of medical conditions, such as chronic pain, muscular dystrophy, autism spectrum disorder, and severe muscle spasms, for which medical marijuana can provide relief.


Additionally, Louisiana law provides protections beyond mere possession and use. The law stipulates that medical marijuana patients should not be denied any right or privilege, including access to medical care, custody rights, and housing rights, solely based on their medical marijuana patient status. This makes Louisiana one of the states taking extensive measures to ensure medical cannabis patients can lead a normal, undiscriminated life while managing their health conditions with cannabis.

Of course, these protections are bound by certain limitations and regulations. For example, patients must acquire their medical cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries, like those in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, or New Orleans, to ensure they are receiving quality-controlled, legal products. They must also regularly renew their medical marijuana card and maintain regular consultation with their healthcare provider to continue benefiting from these protections.


Understanding these rights, protections, and regulations is integral for every Louisiana medical marijuana patient. It enables them to leverage the state's progressive stance on medical cannabis and gain improved control over their health, well-being, and legal standing.


employee rights handbook on desk

Employment Law and Medical Cannabis Use


In the context of employment, Louisiana’s medical marijuana laws provide certain protections to employees who are valid medical marijuana patients. An employer cannot refuse to hire, discriminate against, or penalize a person solely on the basis of their status as a medical marijuana patient or a positive drug test for cannabis, given that the patient holds a valid medical marijuana card.


However, this does not give employees the right to use or possess marijuana at the workplace or during working hours, nor does it prevent the employer from disciplining an employee for being under the influence of marijuana at work. Employers are still allowed to implement policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees at the workplace.

Furthermore, certain exceptions exist in these protections. For example, employers can refuse to hire or can discipline an individual if their use of medical marijuana would conflict with federal law or would cause the employer to lose a federal contract or federal funding. Therefore, employees in certain federal jobs or industries regulated by federal law, such as transportation, may not be protected under Louisiana's medical marijuana laws.


Legal Protections for Medical Professionals

Doctors who recommend the use of medical marijuana for qualifying conditions are also provided legal protections under Louisiana law. Medical professionals cannot be penalized or denied any right or privilege for recommending medical marijuana treatment for a patient, provided that they comply with the required standards and regulations. This encourages healthcare providers to consider all viable treatment options for their patients, including medical cannabis.


While Louisiana has made significant strides in accommodating and protecting medical marijuana users, patients and employees must carefully navigate these laws. They should consider consulting legal counsel or an experienced healthcare provider like ARCannabisClinic to understand their rights fully, ensuring they remain in compliance with all state and federal regulations while pursuing their medical treatment options.


Legal Landscape: Medical Marijuana Lawsuits in Employment across the United States and Louisiana


The interaction of medical cannabis laws with employment practices has proven to be a complex and evolving terrain. With the rise of medical marijuana programs across various states, including Louisiana, there have been cases where medical marijuana patients have sought legal recourse against their employers.


notice of lawsuit letter

Landmark Lawsuits across the United States


One such pivotal lawsuit is the case of Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Marketing, LLC, in Massachusetts. In this case, Cristina Barbuto, a qualified medical marijuana patient, filed a lawsuit against her former employer after being terminated for testing positive for cannabis. Barbuto, who was recommended marijuana by her doctor for her Crohn's disease, claimed that the company's actions violated state laws that protect employees against handicap discrimination. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled in Barbuto's favor, stating that her use of medical marijuana was as lawful as the use of any other prescribed medication.


In another significant case, Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC in Connecticut, the plaintiff, Katelin Noffsinger, a registered medical marijuana patient under the state's Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA), was denied employment after testing positive for cannabis. The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Noffsinger, holding that federal law does not preempt PUMA's prohibition on employers' firing or refusing to hire qualified medical marijuana patients, even if they test positive for cannabis.


Lawsuits in Louisiana


As of the writing of this blog, there are been no significant employment lawsuits filed by medical marijuana patients against their employers in Louisiana. Nevertheless, given the rapidly evolving legal landscape across the United States and the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana as a legitimate treatment for chronic pain, severe muscle spasms, and other qualifying conditions, future lawsuits in this area can be expected.

The legal intricacies in Louisiana are particularly unique because the state offers some protections for medical marijuana patients against discrimination in the workplace. These patients have legal protections under Louisiana law, provided they are in good standing with the Louisiana medical marijuana program, and hold a valid medical marijuana card issued by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.


However, patients and employers should understand that these legal protections have certain limitations and exceptions. It's essential to stay informed about the legal rights of medical marijuana patients and the obligations and rights of employers in this context.

The landscape of medical marijuana laws, particularly concerning patient rights and employment, is continually evolving. With more states legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, the interplay between state and federal laws is set to become an increasingly relevant topic for debate. As such, both medical marijuana patients and employers will need to stay informed about these developments to ensure their actions are both legal and fair.


Louisiana's Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: A Complete List


Louisiana has reached its limit for medical marijuana dispensary licenses, with the last one granted for a site in Kenner by Crescent City Therapeutics, scheduled to open in fall 2023. The Louisiana law allows the Pharmacy Board to issue up to 10 dispensary licenses, with some license holders allowed to open additional satellite locations.

If you're a patient seeking a prescription, you should first contact your primary care physician as recommended by the state Health Department.

Here's a list of the licensed dispensary locations across Louisiana:


The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, Alexandria Address: 403 Bolton Ave.

Phone: (318) 545-4460

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


Capitol Wellness Solutions, Baton Rouge Address: 7491 Picardy Ave.

Phone: (225) 800-9420

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


Willow Pharmacy, Covington Address: 69090 U.S. 190 Service Road

Phone: (985) 792-2391

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Green Leaf Dispensary, Houma Address: 6048 W. Park Ave.

Phone: (985) 360-3372

Hours: Open Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.


Crescent City Therapeutics, Kenner Address: 100 W. Airline Drive

Phone: (504) 800.6420

Hours: Opening expected fall 2023


The Apothecary Shoppe, Lafayette Address: 620 Guilbeau Road, Suite A

Phone: (337) 345-4500

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


Medicis Pharmacy, Lake Charles Address: 1727 Imperial Blvd., Building 4

Phone: (337) 420-8420

Hours: Open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


H&W Drug Store, Metairie Address: 5055 Veterans Memorial Blvd.

Phone: (504) 301-2363

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Delta Medmar, Monroe Address: 1707 McKeen Place

Phone: (318) 855-3373

Hours: Open Monday and Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.


H&W Drug Store, New Orleans

Address: 1667 Tchoupitoulas St., Suite B

Phone: (504) 301-2363

Hours: Open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


Hope Pharmacy, Shreveport

Address: 1410 Kings Highway, Suite A

Phone: (318) 585-0420

Hours: Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Please remember to always verify the location and hours of operation before visiting a dispensary.


Navigating the Medical Marijuana Program with ARCannabisClinic


Getting your medical card might seem daunting, but ARCannabisClinic is here to simplify the process. As a trusted, national health technology company, we have made it our mission to help patients get access to medical marijuana, focusing on Louisiana, where we have ample experience navigating the state's unique medical cannabis laws. At ARCannabisClinic, our team of qualified medical professionals are ready to guide you through the process and help you understand your rights, both as a patient and an employee. If you're looking for a medical marijuana doctor or just curious about your options, you can rely on us. Book your risk-free consultation today to speak to a qualified Louisiana medical marijuana physician.

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