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A marijuana growing facility is run by GB Sciences and the LSU AgCenter for medical marijuana. The company is operating from a temporary facility, while it awaits approval for its permanent growing facility and lab.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging resolution in a dispute that has again triggered a delay in medical marijuana availability in Louisiana.

“I believe we need to move forward as quickly as possible, but I’m not here to cast any blame,” Edwards told reporters Saturday. “I just want folks to sit down and work it out, and let’s get this job done.

“Quite frankly, it’s kind of sad to allow people to continue to suffer needlessly if their doctors believe that medical marijuana will help them."

Medical marijuana has not hit state-approved pharmacies, after months of delays as the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Department, which is designated to oversee the state’s two sanctioned marijuana growers, has battled publicly with LSU and GB Sciences over regulations.

In the latest dust up, LSU and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain have been locked in a disagreement over allegations that the university broke the law when it expanded its growing operation.

The Agriculture Department says LSU never signed the required memorandum of understanding, while LSU argues that it had prior written approval to proceed. The dispute is expected to go before a hearing officer.

"The allegations made by Commissioner Strain are simply untrue," LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson said in a statement Friday. "Commissioner Strain's actions are preventing thousands of patients from receiving the medical relief that they are anxiously awaiting and deserve."

Strain, meanwhile, said he’s not trying to hinder the production of medical marijuana and the expansion can proceed once the memorandum of understanding is signed.

"As of now, LSU-GBSL is not in compliance," he said in a statement. "Again, the LDAF cannot give LSU-GBSL the authority to break the law. However, LSU-GBSL can be in compliance to only move plant material into the requested rooms … by signing the MOU which was clearly a requirement as noted in the original letter dated February 28, 2019."

The Agriculture Department also has accused GB Sciences of repeatedly failing to provide information needed for a suitability investigation. The company and LSU have countered that the agriculture department hasn’t clearly communicated what information it needs.

Edwards declined to wade into the central dispute or take sides on the latest disagreement, but he said he believes there is room for resolution.

“I’m not going to blame anybody for the delays, but it’s my hope, and I’ve encouraged everyone at LSU and in the commissioner’s office to work together to make this product available,” the governor said. “It’s the will of the state of Louisiana, as expressed by the Legislature on more than one occasion. We had a timeline that we thought going forward we would be able to actually have the product available to be prescribed according to the statutory scheme that was set up by the Legislature. I don’t think it does anybody any good to let those deadlines pass.”


Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.