LSU seeking contract growers for medical cannabis

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Louisiana State University, one of two institutions granted approval to grow medical marijuana under the Bayou State’s MMJ law, will soon start taking applications from cultivation contractors interested in doing the work.

The Baton Rouge-based school said it expects to choose a cultivator by June and that the first medical marijuana crops could be harvested by the end of 2017, according to Baton Rouge TV station WBRZ. LSU officials projected in October that MMJ sales wouldn’t begin until 2018.

The contractor will be expected to foot the estimated $10 million bill for the cultivation site, WBRZ reported. LSU previously estimated it would cost $11.3 million to build and maintain the grow site, which could be profitable five years after it is up and running.

Ted Gauthier, an LSU professor, said potential contractors from inside and outside Louisiana have shown interest in operating the facility and that he expects about 10 finalists.

According to state law, the MMJ must be grown at an undisclosed, highly secured indoor location. The grow site must not be on the LSU campus, and students cannot be involved in the process.

Southern University, also in Baton Rouge, is the other state institution approved to grow cannabis for Louisiana’s MMJ program.