Louisiana House of Representatives passed the first hemp bill of the 2019 legislative session on Tuesday.

Far from a perfect bill, Representative Clay Schexnayder’s HB 491 sets up a hemp growing program under the Louisiana Department of Agriculture that would take advantage of the US Congress’ passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that laid the foundation for nationwide trade in industrial hemp.  Hemp, the name for a low THC (0.3% or less) cultivar of the otherwise identical plant species to “marijuana” goes by the scientific name, Cannabis sativa.  Hemp is an excellent source of food, fiber, oil and medicine including the cannabinoid, cannabidiol or CBD.  Schexnayder’s bill was designed by Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain’s office in close association with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association or LSA.  Predictably then, it did not allow for cannabidiol until today and even in its significantly improved and amended form, does not allow CBD infusion into food or drinks, it does not allow for inhalation which is absolutely necessary as a delivery method for certain diseases requiring rapid titration or uptake into the body, it prohibits anyone with a felony conviction in the last ten (10) years from participating in the program and it places retail stores selling CBD under the jurisdiction of the state Alcohol and Tobacco Control or ATC among other changes.  It is worth nothing that the bill advancing in the Texas legislature right now (HB 1325) does allow for the infusion of food and drink and medicines with CBD.  Forty two (42) other states have already taken action to seize on the changes Congress made to hemp’s new status at the federal level.  SMPL’s membership is the #1 catalyst for positive changes to our state’s backward drug laws and the best chance our citizens and patients have to beat back the LSA’s efforts to insert itself into the doctor-patient relationship.  As one of the states top few most powerful lobbying groups, the LSA inserts itself into far-ranging policy discussions and manifests control over things it ought not have any say in – including hemp farming or the use of CBD.  Please contact your state Senators and ask them to oppose HB 491 unless it is at least amended to allow for CBD in food, drink and for inhalation.  Right now, law enforcement via the LSA is having more influence over this medicine than we the people, the patients and the health care professionals of our state.  Roll up your sleeves, reach out and Just Say No to the Sheriff’s control of our health care decisions!