The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy recently selected H&W Drug Store to get the first of ten permits to dispense medical marijuana. The store, which will be located at 4718 Paris Rd. in New Orleans, will serve Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes.  Eight more regions are spread out throughout the state and the tenth permit is reserved for future use.

H&W Drug Store is the oldest Black-owned pharmacy in New Orleans. It opened more than 50 years ago by Wesley J. Watkins and Sterling Henry, Sr., the father of current owner Ruston Henry, who took over the business in 1999. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries were approved by the 2016 Louisiana Legislature.  The Board of Pharmacy narrowed down the selection list to the top five pharmacies in each region. In what’s being called a surprise vote, H&W Drug Store ranked third but beat out the first and second ranked pharmacies.

Under the law, smokeable forms of marijuana are prohibited. Instead, patients can purchase creams, oils and pills, but not marijuana in a bud or plant form. And the list of treatable conditions is limited. It includes cancer, HIV, AIDS, Cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.  The agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University are the only places allowed to grow and supply medical marijuana in the state.

As Louisiana prepares to get its first medical marijuana dispensaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) recently went live on his Facebook to add his support as a co-sponsor of  the Marijuana Justice Act. Introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) the bill has stalled since its introduction to the Senate on Aug. 1, 2017 and the House on Jan. 17, 2018

Sen. Sanders has vowed to gain support of the pending marijuana bill by bringing national attention to the proposed legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 narcotics which make it equivalent to heroin and cocaine.

The bill would also eliminate criminal penalties for imports, exports, distribution, and possession and would prohibit and reduce federal funds to states without marijuana legalization statues if the state has a disproportionate arrest rate or incarceration rate for marijuana offenses. It would also direct federal courts to expunge convictions for use and possession. 

Sanders and Booker urge Americans call their congressman and U.S. senator in support of the bill.

 “Work with us. Help us transform this country,” said Sanders during his Facebook video.  “But you can’t do it just sitting around watching the tube. You got to get involved.”

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