The LSU and Southern University agricultural centers both officially have signed on to be the state’s growers of medical marijuana.
On Friday, both system boards independently approved measures to pursue licensing, which will make Louisiana’s public universities the first in the country to be authorized as the sole growers and researchers for the state.
The University of Mississippi also is authorized to grow marijuana for research but does so under a special license for the federal government.
LSU’s Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson asked for the LSU Board of Supervisors’ blessing to move forward with becoming state-authorized growers and producers of the product, which will be consumed only as a medicinal oil and not inhaled or eaten. If LSU and Southern had opted out, only then would private industries have been offered an opportunity to legally grow.
But the participation of the two schools means no other growers will be sanctioned.
Richardson noted that they were not appropriated a single penny to take on the expensive endeavor and will require third-party investors to bankroll construction of a secure, off-campus, indoor growing facility.
He said they already have been contacted by interested investors from out of state.
Richardson also noted that students younger than 21 are forbidden from participating as student-workers. Ultimately, it won’t be until 2018 or 2019 until medical marijuana products are available in Louisiana, he said. And the production facility will be heavily protected from the public and closely monitored.
He said every single plant would be inventoried, bar coded and weighed.
“There will be no ‘shrinkage,’ ” he said. “We will account for every single thing that comes out of there.”
Richardson said he’s excited about the possibility for research and intellectual property to be gained by the schools.
This spring, the Louisiana Legislature cracked open the state’s extremely narrow medical marijuana laws, making the treatment available to a wider range of people suffering from debilitating diseases. Before the law was changed, the drug could be used for only three diseases, which caused LSU and Southern to question whether they could make financial sense of getting into the industry.
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