SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The line has been out the door at Hope Pharmacy in Shreveport since the smokeable form of medical marijuana became available for the first time in Louisiana on Monday.

Pharmacist Doug Boudreaux says his Shreveport pharmacy is the only one in Northwest Louisiana allowed to dispense THC, and they have filled over 600 prescriptions in the last two days.

Boudreaux says it’s popular because it provides faster relief to patients suffering from pain, nausea, inflammation, epilepsy, and glaucoma. Cannabinoids are also believed to be helpful in treating mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.

“It’s intended to relieve it in a quicker manner. It’s going to work in about 15 to 45 seconds, whereas the tinctures in gummies take two hours.”

Plus, the raw flower is easier to process, reducing the cost significantly.

Local cannabis advocate and social media influencer Jada Durden says it has helped her in her battle with anxiety, which she has dealt with for most of her life.

“It’s just made me a more pleasant person. It’s made me more focused on things as far as achieving personal goals, as far as my career, as far as me being self-employed, as far as me being here at the healing clinics,” said Durden, who has become a Brand Ambassador for The Healing Clinics.

Any doctor signed up with the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy can recommend smokeable medical marijuana for patients. The Healing Clinics in Shreveport can evaluate patient records, so doctors are able to recommend the prescription of medical marijuana. CEO Kathryn Thomas says the business has seen a growing demand for medical marijuana since it opened in 2018.

“Patients now are becoming, I think, more aware of natural healing, so I think that people are trying to move away from prescription narcotics to this plant-based medicine of cannabis,” said Thomas. “We hear every day from patients who have just had really wonderful results from the cannabis and then they lose all those side effects of those narcotics.”

Medical marijuana has been available for sale in Louisiana’s medical marijuana dispensaries since August 2019 in oils, pills, liquids, topical applications, gummies, and inhalers, such as that used by asthma patients — but not in a smokeable form. That changed when Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a medical marijuana expansion bill known as Act 424/HB 391 into law, adding raw marijuana in raw or crude form to the list of products legally available.

Unlike other states with medical marijuana programs, Louisiana patients won’t be required to carry around a medical card. Instead, they will simply need a recommendation from any Louisiana doctor for the medicine and can pick it up at any of the nine dispensaries across the state.

If you have been previously diagnosed with a qualifying condition or you suffer from one, you are most likely eligible for a Louisiana Medical Marijuana Card.