BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU and Southern University will have a hand in producing medical marijuana in Louisiana.
The LSU Board of Supervisors and Southern System Board approved measures that would have both universities start taking steps towards a license to produce the drug.
In the 2016 regular session, Louisiana lawmakers passed SB 271, which was sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, increases the number of diseases, including those that cause seizures, that can be legally treated by medical marijuana in Louisiana.
The law, which was signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in May, also allows some families the ability to get a doctor's recommendation for the drug. Mills told lawmakers that because federal law still lists no medical use for marijuana, prescribing the Schedule I drug could put a doctor's license at risk.
Under the bill, LSU and Southern had the right of first refusal to grow the state-sanctioned marijuana, and only 10 pharmacies could distribute it statewide. The universities had until September 1 to decide.
"Research opportunities are endless with this, and it's a dream from our people because most of the crops that we deal with now are in one-year growing cycles," said William Richardson, Dean of Agriculture at LSU. "We can force the marijuana to produce in eight weeks. So every eight weeks we can have new things going on."
The LSU AgCenter is now tasked with coming up with a plan of operation. That includes everything from funding to equipment and security.