BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The LSU AgCenter confirmed Friday that it’s aiming to have medical marijuana on the shelves on Aug. 1, though the final product must still be transported to the Department of Ag and Forestry (LDAF) for final testing.
The AgCenter is in the process of packaging the medicine. LDAF is in receipt of medical marijuana final product from GB Sciences of Louisiana.
LDAF selected a random sample of the final product.
“Once testing is completed and the product passes for homogeneity, potency and is deemed free of contaminants, it will be ready for distribution,” LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said.
Test results of the final product conducted will be completed within seven business days, LDAF says. The testing process could be extended if there are issues with the sample.
The product must be deemed safe for consumption before it is delivered to pharmacies for dispensing.
Southern University, the other licensed grower, and its sub-contractor, Advanced Biomedics, LLC d/b/a Ilera Hollistic Healthcare, received the green light to grow medical marijuana on July 22, 2019. Standard operating procedures have been approved and a Phase 1 facility is ready to begin the process of planting seeds.
The Louisiana legislature approved marijuana for certain diseases and illnesses in 2015. Since then, disagreements between the state’s licensed grower, GB Sciences, and LDAF have repeatedly delayed roll-out.
Stakeholders say the two entities are seeing eye-to-eye now, and working together to get the product ready as soon as possible.
“It hurts my heart knowing that so many patients have been suffering for so long, waiting on product availability,” said Izaak Thibodeaux, who served as a combat medic in Afghanistan.
A spinal injury forced him to retire. Since then, he’s dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He used medical marijuana for the first time in Colorado, and said his nerves were almost immediately calmed. Because marijuana was not legally available in Louisiana, he was forced to give it up when he returned.
“There’s the flashbacks, panic attacks, night terrors, isolation,” Thibodeaux said, describing his symptoms. “When I got out of the military, I was on 18 different medications. My anxiety wasn’t there, but I wasn’t there as a human at all.”
“I was pretty much a zombie.”
Thibodeaux is the president and founder of a nonprofit organization called “Cannabis for Warriors,” which assists veterans, first responders, and their families with safely obtaining affordable medical cannabis.
“We want to be law-abiding citizens, and we want to have access to safe, affordable medical cannabis,” he said. “We don’t want to have to turn to the underground market. I don’t want to be a criminal for the medication that I need.”
The state had its first medical marijuana crop approved by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) back in February after it passed laboratory inspections.
GB Sciences was approved to grow medical marijuana at LSU in March. In mid-July, the company announced medical marijuana was just “weeks away” from being available to patients in Louisiana.
Southern University also just announced that its first medical marijuana crop has been planted.