The Beginning of the Licensure Process
Pursuant to Act 261 of the 2015 Legislature and Act 96 of the 2016 Legislature, the Board of Pharmacy completed the rulemaking process to develop a nontransferable specialty license for a pharmacy to dispense marijuana for therapeutic purposes. The Board's Final Rule was published in the August 20, 2017 edition of the Louisiana Register with an immediate effective date.
The enabling legislation placed a limit on the number of marijuana pharmacy permits; no more than ten such permits may be active at the same time. To implement the legislative mandate for an equitable geographic distribution of the marijuana pharmacies across the state, the Board recognized the nine regions of the state established by the Department of Health, allocating one marijuana pharmacy permit to each region. The nine regions and their associated parishes are identified here:
Solicitation No. 1:
> Date of Issue: August 31, 2017
> Deadline for Applications: 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 29, 2017.
> This solicitation invited applications for one marijuana pharmacy permit in each of the nine regions of the state.
> The Solicitation of Applications for Marijuana Pharmacy Permits package contained four documents:
Notice of Intent to Award Marijuana Pharmacy Permits
Application Form for New Louisiana Marijuana Pharmacy Permit
Application Form for Therapeutic Marijuana Designation
Guidance for Applicants & Evaluation Criteria
> The Board's Application Review Committee interviewed all 44 applicants for the 9 pharmacy permits during their meetings on January 25-31, 2018. Following their interviews and deliberations using the evaluation criteria specified in the Board's rules, the committee developed a ranking of the applicants by region. Following the notification of rankings to all applicants in each region, the Board provided an opportunity for any applicant to withdraw its application prior to the Board's consideration of that application during the scheduled administrative hearing. Every applicant was advised the approval of one application for a region would require the denial of all other applications in that region, and further, the denial of an application for a pharmacy permit is considered an adverse licensing action, and further, the Board is required to report all adverse licensing actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Every applicant was further advised the Board would include information about the competitive nature of the application process in any report submitted to the NPDB. Every applicant was further advised that while the Board would not consider any such NPDB report as a negative factor in any future licensing decision, the Board could not speak for any other entity relying on NPDB reports for their decisions.
> Prior to the March 27-28, 2018 administrative hearings, 23 applicants withdrew their applications. The remaining 21 applicants were noticed to appear at specific times on one of the two days. The Chairman of the Application Review Committee presented the committee recommendations to the members of the Board's administrative hearing panel (full Board minus the members of the Application Review Committee, who were excused from futher consideration of these applications) during the meetings. The Board's administrative hearing panel opened hearings for each of the applicants, received the application materials, relevant notices, and other materials and entered them into the hearing record as exhibits. Given the amount of information in the exhibits, the members of the administrative hearing panel then recessed the hearings to review the exhibits.
> The Board reconvened the administrative hearing on April 17-18, 2018. During those hearings, the members of the hearing panel received testimony from the applicants, then deliberated in executive session using the evaluation criteria specified in the Board's rules. After returning to open session, the Board voted to award the marijuana pharmacy permits for Regions 1 through 9 to the following applicants:
As indicated in the Board's rules for marijuana pharmacies, applicants awarded permits were required to commence operations of the marijuana pharmacy no later than 310 days after notice of the award of the permit. In the event the marijuana pharmacy did not commenced operation within 310 days after notice of the award, the Board may, in its discretion, rescind the marijuana pharmacy permit unless the delay was unavoidable. During the Board's February 2019 meeting, the members took note that marijuana products were still not available from the marijuana producers and would not be for several months. The members voted to extend the time-to-open deadline for all marijuana pharmacies until December 31, 2019 and indicated they would review that decision during their November 2019 meeting if products were still not available. One of the marijuana producers made products available on August 6, 2019. The last of the nine marijuana pharmacies to open for business did so on August 8, 2019.
The tenth marijuana pharmacy permit may be issued at a future date not yet designated following a determination of need as indicated by the volume of dispensing transactions in all of the marijuana pharmacies over a period of time not yet defined.