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Marijuana grows in a temporary facility run by GB Sciences and the LSU AgCenter in south Baton Rouge. A background check on the company has been completed, giving it the go-ahead for growing plants in its permanent facility.

A background investigation has been completed on the company LSU contracted with for its medical marijuana program, giving GB Sciences the go-ahead to start full-scale growing operations in its permanent south Baton Rouge facility.

“Full-scale operations mean a consistent and continuous supply of medical cannabis," John Davis, GB Sciences Louisiana president, said in a statement.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain announced Friday the completion of the background investigation by Louisiana State Police. The next step is for the ag department, which regulates the state's two marijuana growers, and the Louisiana Department of Health to inspect the marijuana production facility, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

The company already has produced two successful harvests in a small exterior facility that will allow GB Sciences Louisiana to soon begin the creation of final formulations of nonsmokable medical marijuana. The formulations will be submitted to the agriculture department for final testing and ultimately distributed to nine approved pharmacies around the state.

The company needed access to its larger facility to allow for a perpetual harvest cycle, ensuring a continuous supply of medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions, such as HIV, cancer, seizures, epilepsy, Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. The main production facility in a former Pepsi distribution center in south Baton Rouge has more than five times the production capacity of the exterior facility that GB Sciences Louisiana has been operating.

The main facility is equipped with modular clean room technology for use in the production of plants and formulation of final products.

"We are thrilled to move into our main facilities,” Davis said. “This is a great day for patients.”

The agriculture department proposed a deal in late February that outlined several conditions that would allow LSU and GB Sciences to move into two rooms of their main production facility while the background check continued.

LSU rejected terms of the proposal but went forward with the expansion. Soon after, the agriculture department sent an inspector to the facility and accused the school of breaking state law by expanding without signing onto the deal.

The agriculture department has battled publicly for months with LSU and GB Sciences over the regulatory process, which has been delayed numerous times. Medical marijuana has still not reached state-approved pharmacies' shelves, years after the program was legalized. The other state-approved grower, Southern University's AgCenter, is lagging behind after delays involving the company it chose for its operations.

“The LSU AgCenter and GB Sciences Louisiana have worked diligently on this initiative since GB’s selection in September 2017. We are very happy to have this milestone completed, and we look forward to getting this much-needed product out to the patients of Louisiana,” said William B. Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture.


Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.