Medical Marijuana Alert: Proposed Senate Bill 35 Exempts from Arrest Persons Lawfully in Possession of Medical Marijuana

In our December 30, 2016 article titled "Louisiana Legislature Develops Framework for Medical Marijuana Program" we noted that the exemption from prosecution for the possession of medical marijuana did encompass a "person who is a patient of the state-sponsored medical marijuana program in Louisiana" but likely did not encompass cultivators or dispensaries of medical marijuana, or the respective employees of each.  See  La. R.S. § 40:966(I).  We also noted that it was anticipated that the Louisiana Legislature would remedy this omission in the near term.

In an effort to resolve this omission Louisiana State Senator Yvonne Colomb introduced Senate Bill 35 on April 10, 2017 which will amend and reenact La. R.S. § 40:966(I) to provide exemptions from arrest and prosecution under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances law to persons and entities lawfully in possession of medical marijuana.  Indeed, if Senate Bill 35 is enacted, the exemption provided in La. R.S. § 40:966(I) will be expanded to encompass any "pharmacy licensed to dispense marijuana[,]" "production facility licensed by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to produce marijuana[,]" and "laboratory that tests marijuana or marijuana preparations produced and distributed under the state-sponsored medical marijuana program," as well as the respective "employee[s], board member[s], director[s], or agent[s]" of these entities.

We will keep you apprised of the status of Senate Bill 35 as it wends its way through the Louisiana Legislature.

          Author:  Joshua G. McDiarmid
          Practice Area:  Medical Marijuana Law
          Date:  April 18, 2017

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