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House Approves Senate's Medical Marijuana Bill

24 years after the legislature authorized the prescribing of medical marijuana, the House has approved the Senate’s bill to set up a system for filling those prescriptions.

“So that it can finally be dispensed in a safe, secure, and responsible manner,” explained New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno, who was handling SB 143 on the House floor for Sen. Fred Mills.

As one might expect, there were objections and counter-arguments. Bossier City Rep. Mike Johnson worried about the state’s image, if the bill passed.

“I am very reluctant to have headlines say, ‘Louisiana voted today to get into the marijuana business’, because that’s what it’s going to say around the country,” Johnson said.

“You know what? If we have to place our votes on what the headlines say, we’re in trouble,” Marrero Rep. Patrick Connick responded dismissively.

Livingston Rep. Sherman Mack tried using the “gateway” argument.

“This is the first step to legalizing recreational marijuana,” Mack predicted ominously.

“Rep. Mack, this is not about the recreational part. This is about the human suffering that people have every day,” Rep. Terry Landry, former commander of Louisiana State Police, said in contradiction.

House members shared their own stories. Shreveport Rep. Roy Burrell tearfully spoke of his sister.

“Some of the chemicals that they had to give her made her a vegetable. So I wish she would have had something that could have helped her.”

Breaux Bridge Rep. Mike Huval said he wishes his brother, who passed away from prostate cancer, had been able to have access to pain relief from medical marijuana.

“If this would help a person that you know from the pain that I saw my brother suffer…”

Huval broke off, weeping. After a few moments, he continued.

“I miss my brother. Please consider this.”

The House heard the pain, applauding both Burrell and Huval after they shared their personal agony of watching loved ones struggle with terminal illness.

Ultimately, the House applauded itself, upon voting 70-29 to approve a system for dispensing medical marijuana. The Senate still has to concur on some House-placed amendments, then the bill goes to the governor’s desk.