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What Are the Cannabis Licensing Requirements in Louisiana? (April 2024)

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In 2016, Louisiana took a significant step towards medical marijuana legalization with the passage of SB 271, allowing its use for individuals diagnosed with “debilitating medical conditions.” Initial qualifying conditions included cancer, HIV, AIDS, seizure disorders, and more. By 2019, two cultivators and nine licensed dispensaries began selling medical marijuana products. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy oversees the selection of dispensary locations, while LSU and Southern University Agricultural Center serve as production facilities. The state's stance on cannabis has gradually evolved, with New Orleans and Baton Rouge decriminalizing possession in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Although adult-use cannabis remains illegal, recent legislation, including HB 652 effective August 1, 2021, decriminalized possession of less than 14 grams. Notably, House Bill 988, effective August 1, 2022, provides employment protections for medical marijuana users, and House Bill 190 allows nurse practitioners to recommend medical marijuana. Additionally, House Bill 491 legalized Delta-8 in 2019, indicating Louisiana's alignment with broader cannabis trends. While bills introduced in 2022 for adult-use legalization didn't fully pass, Louisiana appears poised to implement such legislation in 2023, aligning with evolving state attitudes towards marijuana.

Cannabis Business License Requirements in Louisiana

Before pursuing a cannabis business license in Louisiana, it's crucial to ensure eligibility, as engaging in cannabis cultivation, transportation, processing, or manufacturing without a license is prohibited. To apply for a license, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be 25 years of age or older.
  • Be a legal resident of the state, with at least 75 percent ownership/membership of the applicant organization comprising residents, if applying as an entity.
  • Be registered to conduct business within Louisiana.

There is no limit to the number of cannabis business licenses or license categories, and a single address can accommodate a grower, processor, and carrier. However, separate application fees are required for each application and category.

Application and Renewal Fees

Applicants and licensees are obligated to pay both an application fee and an annual renewal fee, although specific fees are yet to be disclosed. These fees contribute to the department overseeing cannabis regulations.

Available Cannabis License Types in Louisiana

Louisiana offers various cannabis business licenses tailored to different aspects of the industry. The key license types include:

Cannabis Commercial Grower License

  • Authorization to produce, transport, and sell cannabis and seeds.
  • Allows handling and transportation of cannabis within the state.
  • Monthly reporting obligations to the department, including details on harvested cannabis, usable cannabis on hand, sales to processors/retailers, and total wholesale sales.

Cannabis Processor License

  • Permits the conversion of cannabis into products like edibles and tinctures.
  • Allows handling, processing, and transportation of cannabis and cannabis products.
  • Compliance with State Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law for processing rules.
  • Monthly reporting requirements covering purchased cannabis, processed cannabis, cannabis waste, and total wholesale sales Cannabis Contract Carrier License
  • Enables the transportation of cannabis and cannabis products between licensed entities within the state.
  • Requires secure, labeled containers for transport.

Cannabis Retailer License

  • Specific requirements include the applicant's age of 21 or older and proof of a valid lease or ownership of the intended premises.
  • Retail locations must not be in drug-free zones and must include restricted areas for storing and selling cannabis.
  • Restrictions on daily sales to individuals, online sales, and the sale or giveaway of tobacco, alcohol, or food products.

Understanding the nuances of each license type and adhering to reporting obligations are integral to a successful cannabis business operation in Louisiana.