Louisiana State University and the horticultural experts at Southern University AgCenters have seemingly been given a profitable proposition … and one that potentially jeopardizes their federal funding and monopolizes the entire cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis in the Bayou State.
Thanks to legislation signed into law on June 29, 2015, the two Louisiana AgCenters have been awarded the right of first refusal to accept or reject having complete control over the production of the state’s legal medical marijuana products.
Should the two Ag centers opt-out of this opportunity fearing a potential conflict with the federal government and the loss of any funding, the opening would then revert to a public bidding scenario – searching for a single provider for the entire state.
Apprehensive of the process, many medical marijuana experts, activists, and the watchdog groups that monitor the states’ efforts to create a functioning and legalized medical marijuana market, believe that by allowing these two public universities to cultivate, cure and produce all of the medical marijuana for the states sick is unprecedented in its scope. In addition to creating a scenario where the entire states medical marijuana populace is subject to the production capabilities of these two institutions, many fear the Ag Centers could be manipulated into ending their program unexpectedly over the potential loss of their federal funding.
And that loss could be substantial. From 2011 through 2014, Southern Ag Centers received in excess of $23 million in federal funding; meanwhile the LSU Ag Center raked in a staggering $68.6 million. Representing the potential loss of some serious federal dollars handed over annually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If accepted, the two Louisiana AgCenters would then be required to cultivate all of the raw cannabis material and perform the extraction of the plants valuable cannabinoids for the entire state. According to Louisiana’s recently signed law, the state will permit ten new dispensaries/pharmacies to operate statewide in the near future. Thereby allowing patients to legally obtain their medical marijuana throughout the state of Louisiana.
Louisiana’s currently accepted ailment list is fairly restrictive. Any potential new patients will need to have been seen by a physician and have obtained a doctor’s prescription for one of the following ailments to qualify: Glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, and symptoms caused by chemotherapy.
Ignoring the hypocrisy of marijuana’s current classification within the CSA, and snubbing their nose at the old idiom “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” LSU’s officials informed the state’s agriculture commissioner, Mike Strain, they don’t see a problem with the potential state sanctioned cultivation and any federal funding they receive for their AgCenters.