Southern University approves medical marijuana contract with Advanced Biomedics

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Southern University System Board of Supervisors announced Friday that the contract for medical marijuana cultivation and production has been awarded to Advanced Biomedics, a Lafayette-based company.

"Today, the board has voted to affirm the work invested by the Ag Center and the Medical Marijuana Review Committee to select a vendor for our historic medical marijuana initiative. We are excited about the opportunity to enter into this venture that has the potential to bring health benefits to improve lives and also to build into a successful enterprise for Southern University," said chair of SU Board of Supervisors, Ann A. Smith.

Advanced Biomedics will produce pharmaceutical grade medicines from marijuana plants for patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, cachexia (wasting syndrome), seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn's disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. The medications will be provided to patients in the form of oils, pills, powders, gelatin-based chewables, and other non-inhalable forms.

"This is a great day for Southern University and HBCUs across the country," said Dr. Robby R. Phills, chancellor-dean of the Ag Center and College of Agriculture.

The Ag Center will receive more than $6 million over the next five years for the project. Advanced Biomedics will also support research initiatives through the Ag Center's Southern Institute of Medicinal Plants (SIMP).

"The research conducted at SIMP will focus on enhancing the knowledge base of plants and their potential of therapeutic effects and medical uses on human health," said Dr. Janana Snowden, director of SIMP.

The three finalists were narrowed down from a list of seven on August 17.

In accordance with a state law passed in 2016, the LSU and Southern University agriculture centers are the only entities legally allowed to grow medical marijuana in Louisiana. The two universities will provide medicine derived from medical marijuana to ten state-sanctioned pharmacies.

During the board's last meeting, the Medical Marijuana Review Committee said there are about 4,200 patients statewide that will qualify for the medicine. Southern University and LSU will theoretically split the available market, but the exact market share is yet to be determined. The university reported no taxpayer money will be spent on the program.

For more information about the program, click here.

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