Medical Marijuana Bill

The marijuana industry for years has struggled to find financial institutions willing to handle their cash. Financial regulators in 13 states, including Louisiana, have signed onto a letter to Congressional leaders seeking legislation to clear the way for banks to do business with  state-legalized marijuana businesses.

A Baton Rouge investor has filed a lawsuit against the company in line to run Southern University's medical marijuana growing operation, claiming the firm reneged on a multimillion-dollar deal that would have made him a partner.

James Financial LLC, of Baton Rouge, is alleging defamation and breach of contract. The firm is asking a judge for damages and lost profits from the marijuana venture. James Financial is owned by Ian E. James, who also runs investment services company Capital Financial Group.

Advanced Biomedics of Lafayette and founder Chad Bodin are the defendants named. 

Randy Angelle, an attorney for Advanced Biomedics, told the Southern University Board of Supervisors Friday that the lawsuit has "no merit." 

The suit, filed Thursday in Lafayette court, represents the latest dispute in a tumultuous few weeks for Advanced Biomedics, whose majority owner and founder have feuded in court over the contract negotiation and the company’s ownership structure. The owners resolved their dispute and signed a contract with Southern earlier this month that needs Southern's board approval, according to the university. The school has not yet provided a copy of the contract sought in a public records request.

Southern signs marijuana contract with Advanced Biomedics despite power struggle at firm

A few days before a deadline imposed by Southern, before Bodin resolved his dispute with his main financial backer, Carrol Castille, he approached James and “other potential investors” to solicit their investment in the company, the suit said. The other investors were not named, and were referred to as the “James Investors.”

According to the lawsuit, the James Investors signed a promissory note for $20 million as part of a deal with Bodin that gave them a 14 percent ownership interest in the company. They entered into the deal with the understanding that Castille was not a part of the firm because he had not put up the $12 million he previously promised to become the key investor in the venture, the suit says.

Four days later, after the James Investors met with Southern administrators to discuss the partnership and signed paperwork entering into the firm, Bodin’s attorney told them Bodin resolved his dispute with Castille and didn’t need their investment, according to the lawsuit.

Then Bodin’s attorney threatened the James Investors with a cease and desist letter, claiming the group was violating a nondisclosure agreement by posting confidential information on a blog called, the suit says. That site urges readers to contact Southern board members and tell them to end the contract with Advanced Biomedics.

On Thursday night, the site read, “Southern contract turmoil continues. More lawsuits. Board hoodwinked AGAIN.” It linked to the latest lawsuit from James Financial.

James Financial is suing Bodin and Advanced Biomedics for defamation, alleging they spread false information to Southern administrators about the blog and damaged its reputation. The suit said the James Investors were not responsible for the blog, and the blog did not contain any information that violated the nondisclosure agreement. 

Follow Sam Karlin on Twitter, @samkarlin.