METAIRIE, La. - Sloane Fournier, 15, suffers at least six seizures a day. She has a chromosome disorder that causes her epilepsy. But the Metairie teen's family believes she could find relief with medical marijuana.
“You have children that were like Sloane, not walking not talking, that used to do those things and are doing them now. It's actually healing their brains,” said Fournier’s mother, Kelly.
In 1991, Louisiana was one of the first states in the country to legalize medical marijuana. Louisiana law allows licensed physicians to prescribe it for patients suffering from glaucoma, side effects from chemotherapy cancer treatment, or spastic quadriplegia, a severe form of cerebral palsy.
But even though a Louisiana doctor can legally write a pot prescription, the law has never been put into practice because pharmacies can't legally obtain or provide it.
Now, there's a renewed push to put regulations in place, so pharmacies can make the drug available.
“What we're now doing is depriving people in Louisiana of a remedy that might actually alleviate suffering for large numbers of people,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “I'm hoping that now that we've had this law on the books for almost 25 years, that something will actually come of it.”
But the head of a local addiction clinic says medical marijuana is a contradiction in terms.
“We don't have anything else in our society that we call medical in that we can't recognize the potency, purity, concentration, and consistency,” said Ken Roy, Ph. D, medical director of Addiction Recovery Resources.
The conversation about legalizing marijuana in general is moving forward in our state. State lawmakers passed a resolution last year asking the House Criminal Justice Committee to study the impact of legalizing marijuana. Legislators plan to meet with stakeholders Tuesday in Baton Rouge. They are set to present their findings before this year’s legislative session.
Meanwhile, Fournier's family is set to make their plea to Senator Mary Landrieu's office this month, and will continue their fight to expand medical marijuana legalization.
“I have to try everything there is to try, I'm not a good parent if I give up, if I say, ‘I'm accepting that this is Sloane's life,’” Fournier.