Louisiana lawmakers passed legislation June 5 that paves way to more than triple the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, giving preference to existing license holders to open additional retail facilities.
The Senate passed an amended version of the legislation, House Bill 697, by a 22-12 vote on June 2, before House lawmakers concurred, 83-17, without debate on Sunday.
Currently, there are nine medical cannabis retail operators in Louisiana. Under the proposed law, nine regions would be established for each of those license holders, and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy would be required to issue a 10th license to the region with the highest population density as of Aug. 1, 2022—likely in the New Orleans region.
In addition, H.B. 697 would allow existing retailers in each region to open up to two additional dispensaries in their respective regions upon meeting defined patient counts:
After 3,500 active, qualified patients are identified in the state’s prescription monitoring program in a region, then the license holder in that region can open a second dispensary. Once both dispensaries in a region are each serving 3,500 active patients, then the licensee in that region can open a third retail facility.
If a license holder