The LSU AgCenter has picked a publicly traded Las Vegas company to operate its medical marijuana business.

GB Sciences Inc. scored the highest overall among seven potential vendors and was selected to move forward with contract negotiations. The LSU Board of Supervisors, which meets June 22, must also approve GB Sciences' selection.

Bill Richardson, dean of LSU's College of Agriculture, said he could not discuss the details of the company's scores until the board meeting.

"We had two excellent proposals that we got down to. None of them were perfect, but a real good selection committee went through in minute detail," Richardson said. "We think we've picked the best of the two to recommend to the board."

Richardson confirmed that the second finalist was CB Medical LLC of Alexandria. The other firms considered were Southern Roots Therapeutics of Baton Rouge, Columbia Care Louisiana LLC of New Roads, Citiva LA LLC of Mandeville; Fourrier House LLC of New Iberia; and Terah Holdings LLC of Shreveport.

GB Sciences Inc. is a publicly traded medical cannabis company. In May, the company announced its first harvest at its Las Vegas cultivation facility and a patent application for treating chronic pain and heart therapies. GB Sciences already has patented a number of compounds and developed techniques for growing medical marijuana. It has applied for medical marijuana licenses in Texas and California.

GB Sciences will work under the LSU AgCenter license in compliance with state law and rules established by regulatory agencies.

In 2015, the Louisiana Legislature enacted a law allowing for the cultivation, production and use of medical marijuana. The law allows the licensing of the LSU AgCenter and Southern University Agricultural Center for the production of medical marijuana. The medical marijuana programs will be regulated by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.

State law requires the medicine to be in a liquid, such as an oil or spray; capsules or pills; edible dosages; topical applications; trans-dermal patches; or suppositories.

No taxpayer dollars will be spent on the project, estimated to cost as much as $11 million.

The company would first build a modular facility, adding units of growing capacity as needed, John Poss, CEO of GB Sciences, said in a recent Advocate interview. Eventually, GB would replace the first facility with a larger, permanent and more technologically sophisticated structure.

The company wants to partner with a university because GB Sciences is research-oriented, he said.

The company expects to benefit from the AgCenter's expertise in bringing scientific discoveries to market. GB Sciences also hopes to begin phase I clinical trials on some of its compounds within a year, testing them for patient safety, dosages and side effects. University Medical Center New Orleans is perfect for that, Poss said.

The AgCenter collaborated with multiple university departments, including the President’s Office, Finance and Administration, and Procurement, in addition to working with external consultants to review similar proposals from other states with medical marijuana programs. Each qualifying offer was reviewed by a selection team composed of five members with expertise in administration, finance, medicine, botanical research and analytical chemistry, with oversight from LSU Procurement.

Poss said his firm's proposal sets aside $300,000 a year for continuing medical education.

Once patients and doctors can learn about the medically beneficial chemical compounds in cannabis, patient numbers will rise, along with revenue, he said.