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As of this
August, Louisiana became one of the two states in the deep south to pass a bill
that has approved the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana
(APNews). Medical Marijuana is currently available in 33 states across The United States, with Louisiana being the most recent addition to the program
(Leafly). The state of Louisiana has only approved two facilities to conduct
and facilitate the cultivation of Marijuana, both are located at agricultural
university campuses, one at the Louisiana State University, grown by GB
Sciences and the other at Southern University grown by Ilera Holistic
Healthcare (APnews). With this being said, the Alison Neustrom Act named only two
businesses allowed to grow medical marijuana and are limited to these two
providers only. This allows the state and the department to have total control
of regulation, price, quality, quantity, and the general direction Medical Marijuana
will move in our state (LDAF). These two main facilities are the pioneers of
the medical marijuana movement in Louisiana, and alongside them are the nine
pharmacies across the state who were appointed by the Louisiana Board of
Pharmacy to dispense Medical Marijuana in their stores.

Though the
change has been recent, policy reform has been in the works since the year 2015 and the finalization of the Medical Marijuana Program came about in July 2017 and
introduction of medical marijuana to the public only came about earlier this
month in 2019. Though medical marijuana is now legal, the state of Louisiana
still does not allow the private growth of marijuana unless it is a licensed
production facility (LDAF). Though it is too early to conduct a full
quantitative study, patients have commented that they have seen significant
improvements with their medical condition (Leafly).

With the
approval being so recent, all eyes are on the Louisiana Department of
Agriculture and Forestry, who is in charge of the clearing and distribution
process and how efficient this program will work. Kettl in chapter one discusses
program accountability and the factors that play into public administration
and their decision making, primarily the outside influences such as private-sector
businesses and constituents. What is also discussed is the political aspect
of public administration. It is currently election year for many elected-positions
across the state of Louisiana including state-senator, lt. governor,
representative, and governor. Whoever is elected or re-elected into these seats
will also play a factor in just how much medical marijuana can progress in the
state of Louisiana. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry could see a
hindrance in progress or stricter regulations if elected officials were to
decide that the state implemented medical marijuana unjustly.

In
correlation to influences of the private-sector, with the Neustrom Act limiting
the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana to two sole private entities,
the state has allowed there to be gridlock and no competition outside of these
two chosen facilities (LSUAG). This is against the spirit of free-market capitalism,
which allows businesses to compete with each other in order for prices to not
be gridlocked at a high cost due to the competitive culture. This places an
ethical problem for the state of Louisiana and the way they are implementing
the medical marijuana program. The facilities are not operated by the state of
Louisiana but have left these two entities to be the sole proprietor in this
new era for Louisiana pharmaceuticals with no chance of private-owned
businesses to be part of the cultivation process. The idea of only allowing
these two entities to be the licensees comes from a stand-point focusing on
research and quality control but in the cost of economic development. The
Neustrom Act is obsolete for it is the base framework for the Medical Marijuana
Program and is the only way for medical marijuana to be introduced and distributed,
the state is ultimately sacrificing economic development by not allowing
businesses to compete. This comes in the cost of the process and program
accountability of the LDAF, making sure that the product and services being provided of a substance already deemed dangerous by being a schedule I substance, is following FDA
regulation. The program has been contracted to private companies within the
state, it would have been more ethical to allow the state to fund and run the
programs themselves allowing tax dollars to make revenue, allowing no private
business to hold a monopoly.

Should the
private sector be a part of this huge change within the state of Louisiana by
allowing private ran cultivation businesses to have licenses as long as they
adhere to the regulations and are strictly tested for quality control?

sources:

https://www.apnews.com/88b847d56181466a81988eda3c6…

https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/two-weeks-in-…

https://www.lsuagcenter.com/~/media/system/6/c/2/0…

http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/medical-marijuana/

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