It’s taken four years, but starting next week, the first batch of medical marijuana will arrive in Louisiana dispensaries.
On Thursday, the state’s agriculture and forestry commissioner Mike Strain announced that the agency had completed the final round of testing on cannabis that was produced by Louisiana State University and a contractor, GB Sciences.
“We are pleased to announce that LSU-GBSL’s final medical marijuana product has passed all testing and is cleared for immediate release to the medical marijuana pharmacies,” Strain said in a statement.
GB Sciences Louisiana president John Davis said that his company is making arrangements with dispensaries to begin delivering the medical marijuana on Tuesday, when eligible patients will be able to access it for the first time. “I can’t tell you how excited we are for patients,” Davis told the Associated Press.
Those patients have certainly had to wait for the treatment. The framework for Louisiana’s medical marijuana program was first established in 2015, when then-Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law. But the law has been hamstrung by regulatory disagreements ever since, leaving patients without access to cannabis. The law, combined with several subsequent tweaks, allows the treatment for patients with a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Advocates on Thursday celebrated the clearance of the final regulatory hurdle. “This has been a longtime coming,” said Jesse McCormick, executive director of Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives, as quoted by The Advocate. “This is for all the patients, advocates, elected officials, two universities, department staff, employees, volunteers, and anyone who took the risk to make this historic undertaking a reality. It is a great day for Louisiana. We couldn’t be more proud.”
Louisiana State University and Southern University, which like LSU is also based in Baton Rouge, are the only two licensed growers in the state. Thursday’s announcement from Strain means that, beginning next week, bottles of GB Sciences’ liquid marijuana tinctures, priced between $90 and $200 a bottle, will be shipped out and delivered to Louisiana’s nine medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state. Patients will also be able to access cannabis in edibles, oils, pills, and topicals, but smokable products are not available under the law. In June, Louisiana lawmakers approved the use of cannabis inhalers, similar to what patients use to treat asthma.
The final round of approval was put in motion late last month, when the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry received the marijuana product from LSU and GB Sciences. From there, the agency tested a random sample of the product for its homogeneity and potency, as well as to determine that it is free of contaminants.