By Tiffany Wong | May 1, 2019 at 6:52 PM CDT – Updated May 3 at 10:20 AM
BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) – Medical marijuana patients gave testimonies to the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday (May 1) about how inhaling medical marijuana helped them with chronic conditions.
Combat veteran Gary Hess told the committee consuming medical marijuana — which is currently illegal in Louisiana — was more effective for his treatment than consuming it through other methods.
“It reduced the muscle tension in my body. It helped ease the pain immediately. It allowed for clarity and focus. It reduced my compulsive thoughts. Within three months, I was off all of the medication prescribed by the VA,” Hess said.
Izaak Thibodeaux is another disabled veteran who relies on medical marijuana treatment and is also urging representatives to pass.
“We need to expand our medical cannabis program to allow for inhalation of medical cannabis. We need THC and CBD because they work synergistically together. One must have the other to be fully effective treatment for most patients,” Thibodeaux said.
Currently, medical marijuana can only be used through tinctures of oil or capsules — methods that Dr. Victor Chou, founder of the Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana said take longer to work than inhalation.
“The main issue with both of those delivery methods is that, as the gentlemen earlier spoke, they take at least 30 minutes, if not sometimes up to two hours to have an effect,” Chou said.
Dr. Gregory Ward said both methods have their place and it’s important patients have the option to choose.
“You think of aerosolization of cannabis as short-acting medication, while the edibles and the oral agents are more long-acting,” Ward said.
If passed, the bill would allow patients to inhale marijuana, but only through vape products.
It would also do away with medical marijuana usage being restricted to treating a preset list of conditions, allowing physicians to recommend it to any patient suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Will Hall works with the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy said it would be necessary to ensure there are still some restrictions to prescribing the drug.
“I would urge you not to lessen the oversight role that the Board of Pharmacy has in oversight of this particular issue, and I’d be careful about just opening the doors to any condition,” Hall said.
However, Representative Kenny Cox brought up the deadly issue of opioids and the need for safer forms of pain management.
“You talk about marijuana, ain’t never killed anybody. I never heard about that, but opioids, they killing them so bad that now we’re opening up places to try to help them,” Cox said.
The bill passed the committee vote and will now move on to the full House for a vote.