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Medical Marijuana Bill Fails In Senate Committee

Lanie Lee Cook/KPEL

Louisiana residents seeking medical marijuana access are out of luck after a Senate committee today rejected a bill that would legalize the plant for therapeutic use in the state.

A 1991 law already allows doctors to prescribe marijuana — it just doesn’t provide for a way to distribute it.

“We sit here every day and we see people that just want options,” said New Iberia Sen. Fred Mills, a pharmacist and the bill’s author, at today’s hearing. “What I’m looking for is to put a mechanism together (for) if that patient and that physician have that discussion, and they feel that this is a therapeutic option.”

"We sit here every day and we see people that just want options."

Speaking in support of the bill was 21-year-old Jacob Irving, an LSU student who suffers from spastic cerebral palsy. He said there are no treatments that would help his condition other than medicinal marijuana, and that trying to sleep is a pure nightmare for him because of the pain in his muscles.

“I have to sleep with my legs crossed and then lean back so that my hip flexers are stretched,” said Irving. “Or I’ll sleep in a full leg brace that stretches my legs. It sucks.”

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said he opposes the bill because he thinks the federal government needs to act on this first.

“Because law enforcement, the people who are charged with upholding the Constitution have taken an oath to uphold these laws,” said Caldwell. “So where it’s illegal…we have a problem.”

Mills said that even Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would be open to the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes only.

But Caldwell said he feels this is a path toward allowing recreational use.

He said when he was the district attorney for Madison, East Carroll and Tensas Parishes between 1979 and 2008, 85 percent of the cases he prosecuted were drug- or alcohol- related.

“Some of the most vicious, brutal murders, and particularly rapes,” Caldwell said, “were with recreational marijuana use.”

Twenty-one states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical use.

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