In 2017, research and biotechnical development company GB Sciences announced that it was partnering with the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center to develop medical marijuana. Recently, the Vice President of Agriculture in LSU, Dr. Richardson stated that university and GB Sciences were planning to present their final suitability study to state police by January end. If the crop is successfully tested for quality and safety, people in Louisiana could access medical cannabis in dispensaries this summer.
Louisiana’s regulated medical cannabis program started three years ago. However, because of legal battles and other issues, there has been no real on the agenda. In 2018, the Pharmacy Board granted licenses to operate to the nine dispensaries across the state. Last year, GB Sciences cultivated its first crop which was grown in a self-contained “pod” at the Louisiana State University AgCenter.
Last week, GB Sciences harvested their primary “pod crop, and samples of that crop were handed for final approval with Louisiana State Police. However, before the final study is given to the police, the LSU Department of Agriculture and Forestry will conduct a test on it. The Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Mike Strain, is in charge of making sure GB Sciences and the University act in accordance, but also to make sure that medical cannabis products are void of any harmful chemicals.
The LSU Vice President of Agriculture, Dr. Bill Richardson, wanted medical cannabis products to be available last year. According to Dr. Richardson, the regulatory process was complicated. Richardson also said that he was worried about the upcoming assessment.
As of now, everything depends on the final suitability study of GB Sciences and LSU. GB’s LSU AgCenter facility, a modular and self-contained cultivation facility, is the first area in the state which grows cannabis. However, there is another facility which has been authorized by Louisiana’s medical cannabis law to cultivate medical marijuana, which is called Southern University’s agricultural center. Southern cultivates medical marijuana in association with Advanced Biometrics, LLC. However, their grow facility is currently being constructed.
Although there’s restricted access to medical cannabis in the state, a current expansion of the medical cannabis program in Louisiana means more patients will be qualified when products are finally available. But patients won’t be allowed to buy pure, smokable or other forms of raw medical cannabis products. Alternatively, they will have the ability to select from different types of cannabis such as oils, chewable, and concentrates.
State lawmakers want to work on legislation which will legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp and hemp-infused products. At the beginning of the year, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which has legalized industrial hemp at the federal level. The legalization of Federal hemp legalization clears the path for USDA regulated cultivation programs including FDA regulated cannabidiol (CBD) products. This means that farmers will have the opportunity to cultivate hemp without fear of their products being confiscated or being arrested by the cops.