State lawmaker says more pro-cannabis legislation needed, as Kenner gets final dispensary permit

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – State Rep. Mandie Landry (D-New Orleans) let out a sigh of relief as her proposed medical marijuana bill narrowly made it out of the Labor and Industrial Relations committee on Tuesday (May 23).

“Nothing makes it out of the Labor Committee here,” Landry said. “Not minimum wage, not employment protections … It’s really hard.”

The bill moved on with a 6-5 vote.

The proposed legislation protects workers with a medical marijuana card if they were fired because of a positive cannabis test, guaranteeing them access to unemployment benefits.

This comes as the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy grants its final permit for a medical marijuana dispensary to Crescent City Therapeutics in Kenner. Developers broke ground on the Airline Highway site Monday morning.

“We battled it out with like 30 other teams and we’re just really excited to win this license,” said pharmacist Thanh Nguyen.

The dispensary is expected to open for business by the end of the year.

“It took several years to get the program here off the ground, and it’s still slow,” Landry said.

Even with medical marijuana legalized in the state, the fine print of its use still is debated at the Capitol.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry opposes Landry’s bill as written, saying it exposes companies to excessive liability if a card-carrying worker is impaired on the job and then fired over a positive drug test.

”That obviously is a problem and that’s the reason why the employer community would oppose this,” said LABI board member Wayne Fontana.

Rep. Larry Frieman (R-Abita Springs) voted against Landry’s bill in committee. He said he wasn’t confident this is the solution the state needs.

“We have to find solutions. I don’t think this is the solution,” he said. “I think it needs to be very strongly vetted over a good period of time to make sure all the experts in every field — from the medical side to the employer side to the employee side — comes together to try to find the proper solutions without upsetting the apple cart.”

Still, Landry says she’ll move forward with the cause.

“Medical marijuana is legal,” she said. “Every person has every right to question their employers or the state and say, ‘Why am I losing my job for using something that’s legal?’ This is a problem the state created.”

Though the state is due for another qualified patient count of medical marijuana users from the Board of Pharmacy after Aug. 1, the Board reported more than 43,000 cardholders in June 2022, according to our partners at the Louisiana Illuminator.

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