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Families, doctors react to Louisiana's loosening of medical marijuana regulations

The families who have been waiting to use medical marijuana say this decision was a break through, however some doctors worry this is a step in the wrong direction.

State regulators are loosening limits on how many patients authorized doctors can treat with medical marijuana. The state board of medical examiners voted Monday to remove the cap that limited doctors to 11 medical marijuana patients. The board narrowly passed another rule that would have required medical marijuana patients to revisit their doctor every 90 days to continue to get their prescription.

The families who have been waiting to use medical marijuana say this decision was a break through, however some doctors worry this is a step in the wrong direction.

Ramsey Castleberry is only 8 years old but his day revolves around taking one medication after another. His autism has left him non-verbal and with an array of health problems.

"We're constantly trying to medicate his behaviors so he can have a peaceful life with natural rhythms in it and we depend on the medication to help establish those rhythms, but it's terrible and deadly medication so it's a really hard choice to make," his mother Katelyn Castleberry said.

Castleberry hopes her family won't have to make these decisions much longer once Ramsey has access to medical marijuana. The process became one step easier Monday when Louisiana's State Board of Medical Examiners voted 8 to 1 to remove a patient cap.

"I was thrilled with the outcome, beyond what I could have hoped for today," Castleberry said.

State Representative Rodney Lyons has worked closely with the Castleberry family to get the medical marijuana program moving forward.

"Legislatively, we're working on behalf of the people who really want this to happen," Lyons said. "The needs outweighing what was already in place so removing that cap was paramount."

Not everyone agrees. Dr. Ken Roy says medical marijuana doses are not regulated by the FDA like other medications.

"They don't really know the concentration, they don't really know the dose and they don't know the consistency and the purity of the products," Roy said about medical marijuana.

But Castleberry is willing to give it a try for the sake of her son.

"I would really hope that medical marijuana would really improve his quality of life, would soothe his nervous system, would help him with his life-threatening behaviors, would eliminate some of the life-threatening medications we have to give him," Castleberry said.

The goal is to get patients access to medical marijuana within the next 3 to 6 months, but so far an exact date has not been set.

Lauren Bale can be reached at lblae@wwltv.com.