Louisiana lawmakers are moving to expand the state's medical marijuana program, as the product nears availability within months.
The House voted 60-39 Thursday to add more conditions to the list of diseases and disorders eligible for marijuana treatment. Rep. Ted James' proposal would include glaucoma, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson's disease on that list.
Here is how Houma-Thibodaux representatives voted on the bill:
For: Beryl Amedee, R-Houma, Truck Gisclair, D-Larose, Dee Richard, independent-Thibodaux, and Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma.
Absent: Tanner Magee, R-Houma.
A separate measure by Harvey Rep. Rodney Lyons that won earlier House passage would allow medicinal-grade pot for autism spectrum disorder.
Both proposals await Senate debate.
Supporters say therapeutic marijuana could help veterans suffering from PTSD and others with severe medical conditions, rather than steering them to addictive opioids.
Opponents said lawmakers should wait until the medical marijuana program begins before expanding eligibility.
James, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, said marijuana is not addictive. He said Louisiana residents have described traveling out of state or permanent moving elsewhere to get therapeutic cannabis for treatment of medical conditions.
Louisiana's medical marijuana program is just getting organized, with plans to have the product available to patients by the summer.
Current state law, passed in 2015 under former Gov. Bobby Jindal and tweaked again in 2016 under Gov. John Bel Edwards, allows use of medicinal pot for people with cancer, a severe form of cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and other specific diseases. Marijuana can be available in medicinal oils, pills, sprays and topical applications, but cannot be sold in a form that can be smoked.