Technically, medical cannabis has been legal in Louisiana since 1978, when Governor Edwin Edwards signed a bill allowing doctors to “prescribe” it to chemotherapy patients. But it took the daughter of a sheriff, advocating on behalf of patients like herself more than 30 years later, to finally win over Louisiana law enforcement officials. Four years after its passage, the law in her name is finally about to bear fruit.
“I credit Alison Neustrom herself with helping pass the bill in 2015,” State Senator Fred Mills wrote to Cannabis Wire. Mills, a trained pharmacist, drafted a plan to implement a safe and regulated medical cannabis program back in 2013, but was blocked in the senate’s health committee thanks to the state attorney general and the Louisiana Sheriffs Association, after both lobbied hard against the bill. Mills needed a champion, and he found one in Neustrom:
“She was a courageous young mother who worked tirelessly in Baton Rouge as a social worker to help disenfranchised children and families and just as she was starting her own family, learned that she had a very aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. Her testimony on the bill in 2014 was so moving because everyone knew her, and with her support, the stigma of medical marijuana being perceived as relief for ‘drug users’ was finally broken.”
Neustrom died before the bill, renamed the Alison Neustrom Act, was signed into law in 2015, but thanks to her and Mills, an estimated 1,441 patients in Louisiana suffering from nine conditions are inches from the finish line on medical cannabis. After a bumpy start to the program, the first sample products passed a final round of safety testing last week. If all goes according to plan, 4,500 bottles of CBD and THC tinctures will reach licensed pharmacies on Tuesday, according to GB Sciences and Tabitha Irvin of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.