Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signs a bill to expand and jump-start Louisiana's medical marijuana program, on May 19, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. (Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press)

Louisiana protects medical pot patients from prosecution

Effective Aug. 1, Louisiana medical marijuana patients will be protected from prosecution after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards has agreed to match Louisiana’s drug laws to conform with its medical marijuana program, so someone who gets the therapeutic drug legally can’t be prosecuted.

The governor’s office announced this week that Edwards signed the bill by Republican Sen. Fred Mills into law. It takes effect Aug. 1.

The measure aims to protect patients of the state-sponsored medical marijuana program from laws that penalize people for possession or distribution of marijuana. It also extends that protection to a patient’s caregiver and the parents of a minor who receives medical marijuana.

The final version of the bill passed with a 29-7 Senate vote and 67-21 House vote.

Louisiana is still 18 months or more away from getting medical marijuana into patients’ hands.

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Senate Bill 180