Recently the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners felt that patients looking for treatment through cannabis should visit a doctor in person, because they viewed it as a controlled substance, presumably taking telemedicine off the table entirely. Telemedicine having become an accepted part of daily medical life during COVID/pandemic times (which are far from over it seems), this seemed like short-sighted thinking on the part of the Board.
Thankfully, state rep Joseph Marino felt the same and went to bat for medical cannabis telemedicine visits, bringing the matter to the attention of state Attorney General Jeff Landry, who felt similarly to Marino, and wrote a lengthy opinion piece steeped in legalese (click here to read the opinion in PDF form). One of the most interesting sections occurs near the end when Landry (and Marino before him) makes the case for the legal distinction between a recommendation and a prescription. Simply, in the grand scheme of medical marijuana, recommendation is the preferred nomenclature due to the placement of cannabis on the federal controlled substances list, and is the word states with legal medical marijuana use.
Marino (and presumably Landry) feels that access to medical marijuana should be made easier, or at least as easy as it has been for the past year, not more difficult. The confluence of the pandemic and medical legalization in Louisiana leading to telemedicine recommendations just made sense, and more importantly, it has worked. Why fix what isn’t broken? Indeed, telemedicine in general is something we as a country should be embracing more, not less, pandemic or not. There’s no reason to fill doctor’s offices with people who aren’t manifesting physical symptoms of sickness alongside those that are. Telemedicine is a perfectly acceptable alternative, and really one that we may not have embraced were it not for COVID (silver linings and all that).
While the jury is currently out as to what the LSBME will decide, presumably the opinion of the attorney general should hold considerable sway in their decision. Marino continues to fight to make the state’s medical marijuana program more accessible and the medicine at the center of it all more affordable. If you’re a medical marijuana user (and surely you must be or you probably wouldn’t be reading this), it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to him and thank him for his efforts.
We’ll update this article as soon as the Board reaches its decision.