by Stefanie Powers
The history of medicinal marijuana goes back to ancient times. In many parts of the world, practitioners mixed marijuana into medicines to treat pain and other ailments. In the 19th century, it was introduced for therapeutic use in Western medicine and is one of the 50 “fundamental herbs” in traditional Chinese medicine. Today, marijuana is becoming widely accepted and is used to treat a variety of health issues.
The first state to effectively legalize medical marijuana was California in 1996. As of February 2022, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Many people are prescribed medical marijuana to alleviate pain, reduce nausea and promote relaxation. Since 2020, Louisiana law allows for any condition considered debilitating to an individual patient to be treated with medical marijuana. Some of the common conditions that can be effectively treated include chronic pain, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, nausea, PTSD, anxiety, Parkinson’s and cancer.
Medicis Pharmacy is owned by Dr. John Condos and operated by pharmacist James Thibodeaux, with eight other approved pharmacies operating throughout the state. While medical marijuana was legalized in Louisiana in 2016, the Lake Charles facility did not open until 2019. It serves Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis parishes.
“There are two state-approved farms that develop product for medicinal use in the state,” Thibodeaux explains. “The LSU AgCenter (Good Day Farm) and the Southern AgCenter (Ilera Holistic Healthcare) and their private partners are the only growers who can legally cultivate marijuana in Louisiana’s medical marijuana program.” Medicis Pharmacy and the eight other pharmacies are the only facilities allowed to dispense the products. Additionally, the tenth permit is soon to be awarded in LDH Region 1.
The legislature-approved forms of medical marijuana in Louisiana include raw flower, oils, distillates, extracts, tinctures, sprays, capsules, pills, solutions, gelatin-based chews, topical creams, transdermal patches, suppositories, and metered-dosed inhalers. Dr. Condos is excited about the new products from Good Day Farm, which should be available before the end of the year.
“There are a variety of products coming to market,” Thibodeaux says. “New forms of medication, including honey, chocolate and cookies, are soon to be available. There are seasonal flavors, innovative technologies and an assortment of new medicine that will continue to become available to patients in the future.”
There is also a new rechargeable vape pen, called a Go Pen, from GDF. “It’s 100 percent pure marijuana with natural fruit flavors—and that’s it. There are no fillers; nothing else is added. They have a micro-USB port at the bottom for recharging,” says Thibodeaux. They are available in a variety of flavors – Berry Mint, Blue Raspberry Smash, Cosmic Berry Blast, Strawberry Lemonade and Tropicana.
The one complaint patients have is the cost. Patients must pay for products out of pocket due to the Schedule 1 controlled substance classification of marijuana, which is not covered by insurance. Also, all products are lab-tested, verified for purity, and sold in secure facilities, under the guidance of physicians and registered pharmacists. All these measures add to the cost but are critical for patient safety and product efficacy.
“New testing facilities are about to be online, and producers are expanding their facilities, both of which will increase the number of products available and will reduce their time to market,” states Condos. “We are actively working with the producers to provide better service and reduce costs to our patients. We also offer free delivery to our patients and veteran discounts. We are adding a satellite location in Jennings, as well as relocating our Lake Charles pharmacy to a more centralized location. Patients can expect to see more products and price reductions at Medicis Pharmacy in 2023.”
Check out their website to find out how you can benefit from medical marijuana and to see a list of telemedicine physicians that are able to recommend medical marijuana. Once you become a registered patient, you can order online for either pickup or delivery.
Medicis Pharmacy, 1727 Imperial Blvd., Bdg. 4, Lake Charles, LA 70601. (337) 420-8420, www.medicispharmacy.com. Hours are Mon.-Thurs. 9 AM-5 PM, Fri. and Sat. 9 AM-1 PM., closed Sunday.