A major first step has been taken for Louisiana’s medical marijuana industry, as the first production facility has been approved to begin growing and producing the plant at Louisiana University (LSU). While lawmakers created the structure for medical marijuana in the state in 2015, it was decided that growing facilities would only be allowed to function at LSU and Southern University. The Board of Supervisors at LSU have approved an application from Nevada based company GB Sciences to set up a marijuana research and production facility. The company has agreed to pay the university a minimum of $3.4 million over 5 years or 10% of the gross receipts, whichever amount is higher. They have also agreed to give the university $500,000 annually to support medical marijuana research.
The Benefits of the Agreement
It is now up to System President F. King Alexander to finalize the details of the agreement and the board chairman to sign off on the deal. The leader of the LSU AgCenter Bill Richardson expressed enthusiasm for the medical research that can be explored from the school. GB Sciences CEO John Poss also agreed that the company is interested in the potential research that can be undergone through the new deal as well as the financial benefits. The university will now be able to conduct critical medical research on the plant that has been helping so many people suffering from debilitating disorders.
Details of the Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program
Medical marijuana in Louisiana will only be allowed to be sold and consumed in non-smokeable forms such as oils and pills. Vaporizing will still be allowed. High quality medical grade marijuana products will become available to registered medical marijuana patients with a doctor’s recommendation next year. Those with debilitating and terminal disorders will be eligible to see a doctor for treatment. Conditions such as these include cancer, epilepsy, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other conditions. The production and availability of medical grade marijuana in the state will allow many who are suffering to receive relief.
Strict Conditions of Growing and Research
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, the highest risk category, having the strictest rules. Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD and are considered to have no medicinal benefits. Several senators wrote the DEA last year, requesting that the classification be re-examined. The DEA failed to reschedule or de-schedule marijuana despite the enormous amount of evidence proving that it is safer than cigarettes and alcohol as well as having countless medicinal benefits. The DEA claimed that there was no official, government approved evidence showing its medicinal benefits. This is because, up until that point, it was illegal to conduct medical research on the plant and there were no approved studies.
While the DEA failed to change the classification, they agreed to allow medical research to be done on the plant. The criteria for being approved for such research is very strict. However, the new Louisiana facility could serve to provide official medical research and potentially contribute to changing the plant’s current classification. The Southern University is also planning to strike a deal with a marijuana production company later in the year, thus creating 2 facilities where medical marijuana as well as research will be going to helping those that can benefit most from the plant.