I've got some good news and some bad news for you. First the good news. Louisiana finally ranks better than dead last on a national survey. The bad news? The survey shows that more Louisiana residents are using a restricted or illegal substance than ever before. Of course, we are talking about cannabis use in the state. 

Don't Call it Marijuana anymore

By the way, I have been informed by the cannabis lobby in the state that terms like "pot", "weed", and even "marijuana" are no longer acceptable terms for cannabis. According to those who worry about such things the terms denote derogatory stereotypes. So, since a rose by any other name would get you just as addled, we will acquiesce and use the approved term "cannabis". However, "marijuana" is still acceptable for use among the politically correct when describing using the drug for medicinal purposes.

How High is High?

The US Drug Test Centers using information from the US Department of Health and analysis from the Tax Foundation have determined that cannabis use in Louisiana is up among adults by about 30% since 2015. Currently, eight percent of the state's residents admit to using cannabis over the last 30 days.

The major reason given for the increase in cannabis use has to do with the stigma about the drug being removed. In fact, with so many states legalizing the drug for recreational use cannabis once shady past is slowly but surely being exposed to the light of day.

Is Cannabis Legal in Louisiana?

Well, yes and no. Medical Marijuana is legal in Louisiana with a prescription from an authorized medical professional. Inhalable cannabis is currently not legal in the state. However, the current session of the legislature is considering several measures that would change the state's stance on the once demonized drug.

One measure seeks to decriminalize cannabis. In other words, if you were caught with cannabis you'd get a ticket instead of jail time. Another measure seeks to make inhalable or edible cannabis available to medical marijuana patients. Many users have complained that the tinctures currently offered by the state's producers do not provide adequate relief for their symptoms and the cost of tinctures can be quite high.

Yet another measure seeks to make cannabis legal as a recreational drug. That measure has a realistic opportunity to pass if not in this session then in future sessions because attitudes toward cannabis have become more and more liberal over the past few years.

What About the Children?

Opponents of legalized cannabis often bring up increased usage of the drug among those who are underage. First, you're kidding yourself if you don't think cannabis use isn't going on in our state's high schools or even junior high schools. It is. Don't argue. It's a fact.

But according to the US Drug Test Center Study in states where cannabis is legal, there have not been any big spikes or major jumps in underage use. In fact of the 16 states with legal cannabis eight of them actually saw use among youth declined.

Those who support legalized cannabis say money generated from taxes on the substance could be used to fund educational programs for schools to reflect the concerns and awareness that should go along with responsible behavior. They do similar programs about alcohol, so that doesn't seem to be such a stretch.

How Much Money Will Legal Cannabis Generate?

Obviously, that is a question that doesn't have a definite answer. It is estimated that a state like Louisiana would see an increase in tax revenue of anywhere from $100 million dollars to $400 million dollars. It's not like Louisiana will legalize cannabis on a Monday and be able to afford a new I-10 bridge in Lake Charles by Wednesday. It's a lot of money but in government terms, it really isn't

But that additional income certainly could fund a lot of programs in the state or help support a lot of improvements to current programs. That will all have to be decided by legislators should Louisiana residents make the choice to include cannabis among its approved drugs for festival use.

This Sounds  a Lot Like Sports Wagering

Yes, it does. I believe sports wagering was approved in Louisiana because we realized we were losing a lot of money to neighboring states where it has already been approved. A similar scenario could unfold over the cannabis issue if Louisiana is late to the party as we were in sports wagering.

The way I see it is this, studies show people are using cannabis just like they were betting on sports. Through legislation, we can now regulate the sports wagering industry and collect revenue off the backs of those that choose to play. Why not do the same thing with cannabis. If you don't want to use it, that's great. You won't be required. If you do, then you'll be helping to pay for my roads, bridges, and schools.

Ask Your Doctor if Cannabis is Right for You

No, seriously, you'd want to do that. In fact, you'd really want to consult a medical professional before you take any medication. Granted most of us won't and most of us don't we just grab our drug of choice and await the consequences. And for those of you whose current drug of choice is alcohol, at least it comes in a lot of different flavors.

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