Medical marijuana in Louisiana hits speed bump, regulatory hurdle for crop

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s first medical marijuana crop will take longer than expected to reach patients.

GB Sciences, the marijuana grower for the LSU AgCenter, had hoped to provide product to Louisiana’s nine licensed medical marijuana pharmacies by September. But the company tells The News-Star the earliest harvest likely will be in November.

John Davis, GB Sciences president, said his company is waiting for the state agriculture department, which is regulating the industry, to sign off on GB Sciences’ medical marijuana growing facility plans.

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Agriculture Commission Mike Strain said he isn’t trying to stall the process. He said GB Sciences has to finish its operating procedures and complete its background checks with the state police.

“I know they’re anxious to get into production, but it’s incumbent on them to get the information to the parties who need to review it,” Strain said.
Davis said the company has cooperated completely.

“We’ve submitted everything we’ve been asked and resubmitted everything they’ve asked for, so we’re trying to get down to the bottom line so we can prevent any further delay to the patients, the physicians and pharmacies,” Davis said.

Davis said he met with representatives of the nine dispensing pharmacies last week, and they’ve expressed concerns about the delay.

“It’s become pretty frustrating and illustrates the pace of government and the pace of business operate at two separate speeds,” said Greg Morrison, who secured the permit for a medical marijuana pharmacy he’s opening in West Monroe. “We really need to get moving.”

When asked the timeline for regulatory approval, Strain said, “I can’t say when it will happen.”

Under a law passed in 2015 and tweaked twice since then, Louisiana is allowing therapeutic cannabis to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as cancer, epilepsy, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Marijuana can be available in medicinal oils, pills, liquids, sprays and topical applications, but cannot be sold in a form to be smoked.

Only the LSU and Southern University agricultural centers can grow medical marijuana. LSU’s contractor is further along than Southern’s chosen grower.