BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After more than a year of delays, members of the Southern University Board of Supervisors got down right blunt about a medical marijuana deal they say went sour. They also chose to move ahead with a new firm to manage their growing operations.
“Over the past year, we have been slow-rolled with regards to getting to this particular point,” said board member, Raymond Fondel Jr.
Attorney Tony Clayton, who also serves on the board, says he was disappointed in how the deal was handled, saying the university did everything right, but still got burned.
“We stopped this,” Clayton added. “We stopped this train from completely running over us, but it’s hard to fight against folks who don’t have good intentions form the onset.” Clayton defended the board during Monday’s meeting and took on recent criticisms of the process. He also took the opportunity to call out the school’s previous partner, Advanced Biomedics, saying those responsible for hindering the process should be ashamed.
"I just think that the owners of Advanced Biomedics ought to be ashamed of themselves for what they did,” Clayton said. “We entered into an agreement with them and they just lollygagged and did whatever they did and kind of set us behind." Southern Chancellor Ray Belton called it an opportunity to learn from and said right now, the main goal is to make things right.
“I don’t think we should reflect on the past, but really the present and today really represents an historic occasion for Southern University,” Belton said. With a check for more than $2 million in hand, university officials chose to move forward with Ilera Holisitc Healthcare. The firm bought out the majority shares of Advanced Biomedics and was able to quickly update the previous contract with the school and gain the board’s approval. The group will also pay the school’s monthly installments beginning in January of 2020. Belton says the move will jump start their growing operation and get the drugs out to those who need them as soon as possible.
“There are so many individuals and stakeholders throughout the state who actually need the medicine and so while there has been some delays, we’re very optimistic that we’re going to be able to accelerate our efforts,” Belton added.
President of Ilera, Dr. Chanda Macias, is a Louisiana native and promises they will hit the ground running. They have already green lighted a temporary facility near Southern’s campus on Scenic Highway while also making preparations to build a permanent facility in the next several months. “It takes between six to nine months to build out and at that time, we’ll be at full capacity," she added.
Macias expects to make up for any delays and get products on the market as early as next year.