Regulatory delay holds up Louisiana’s medical marijuana program

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Louisiana’s first medical marijuana crop will take longer than expected to reach patients, and that has some dispensing pharmacies in the state anxious.

GB Sciences, the grower for the LSU AgCenter, hoped to provide product to Louisiana’s nine licensed medical marijuana pharmacies by September. But the company told 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 oversees the industry, to sign off on GB Sciences’ growing facility plans.

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

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

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 allows therapeutic cannabis to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Parkinson’s disease

MMJ can be sold in the state in medicinal oils, pills, liquids, sprays and topical applications, but will not be available in a smokable form.

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

– Associated Press