Medical marijuana program expands, among new Louisiana laws

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LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 7: Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A group of activists have submitted about 50,000 signatures in an effort to force a referendum on a marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles to take effect next week. A minimum of 27,425 valid signatures from registered voters is needed to let voters decide on the issue in March, and until the number can be verified, the ban will not be enforced. . The ban would not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana widens access to medical marijuana, tightens the rules on vaping in cars and makes it harder to restrict guns in cities and towns, as nearly 200 new laws take effect Saturday.

Most of the provisions were passed in the Legislature’s shortened regular session that ended in June.

Lawmakers agreed to limit the use of solitary confinement with pregnant prisoners. They broadened the activity that could get a person charged with the crime of battery of a police officer, to include the throwing of water and other liquids at an officer. And they increased the ways a person sent to prison as a juvenile can seek parole.

One new law will significantly expand Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, allowing doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any patient or medical condition they believe it will help, and removing restrictions on which doctors can recommend cannabis.

Also starting Saturday, vaping with a child in the car will be illegal in Louisiana. State law already prohibited drivers and passengers from smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars if a child’s in the vehicle. The new statute adds vaping to that list.

Meanwhile, Louisiana municipalities will be unable to ban guns in businesses and most public buildings through ordinances that are tougher than statewide restrictions — and is nullifying those already enacted. The new law doesn’t apply to meeting places of local governing authorities, however, which can carry stronger restrictions.

Concealed handgun permit holders also might have an easier time bringing a gun in church. A law letting church authorities require anyone wishing to carry into the facilities to take an extra eight hours of tactical training each year has been repealed. But church authorities still have to agree before allowing concealed handguns in a place of worship.

By: Associated Press

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