The medical marijuana industry could bring a windfall between $204 million and $334 million to Louisiana if the state, which is grappling with a budget crisis, makes minor changes to its current medical marijuana law, according to a new study by the Louisiana Cannabis Association and Denver-based Marijuana Policy Group.
“Medical marijuana will dramatically improve the lives of many in Louisiana who suffer from debilitating illnesses,” says Jesse McCormick, the Louisiana Cannabis Association spokesman, in a statement. “At a time in our state when we are raising taxes while cutting health care and higher education, creating a viable medical marijuana market is an easy decision.”
The association says the greatest profit potential would be realized if Louisiana allows medical marijuana to be recommended for a comprehensive range of of medical conditions. Current law limits medical marijuana use to three conditions—glaucoma, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and those with spastic quadriplegia.
In a statement, Adam Orens, a partner at the Marijuana Policy Group, says the medical marijuana industry can have an upside in revenue gains for Louisiana.
“By adopting the same limits on the conditions that are allowed to be treated by medical marijuana as those found in other states, Louisiana can create meaningful increases in tax receipts,” Orens says.
According to the study, between 3,900 and 4,700 people would be eligible for medical marijuana under present conditions. If chronic pain were added to the list of eligible conditions, that number would grow to somewhere between 64,000 and 105,000, the study says. However, under the state’s current single-grower system and uncertainties surrounding the doctor and pharmacy aspect of the program, the actual patient count will be lower than the report’s estimates.
The study also says that since the state limits medical marijuana to three medical conditions, the current estimated market size of the medical marijuana industry would be fairly small, falling somewhere between $12.3 million and $14.8 million.
In the 11-page report, researchers studied the medical marijuana systems in place in Oregon and Colorado because the two states have adopted a regulated dispensary market model, track license holders by qualifying condition and have mature systems that allow for easy adoption.
“Oregon and Colorado have a history and culture of accepting medical marijuana treatment,” the report reads. “These states can be used to represent capture rates in established markets with regulated dispensary models. This study methodology assumes that eligible patients in Louisiana will elect to use medical marijuana for treatment of their condition within the range of frequencies exhibited by Oregon and Colorado patients.”
The study comes two days after Bill Richardson, vice president of agriculture for LSU and dean of the College of Agriculture, says the LSU AgCenter has not made a final decision on whether it will grow medical marijuana or opt-out of the program. Both the LSU AgCenter and the Southern University AgCenter have right of first refusal for growing medical marijuana in Louisiana.