LSU board raises student fees, advances medical marijuana contract

The LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to increase fees on students attending the flagship Baton Rouge campus by $270 per semester beginning in the fall semester.

In what amounts to a 5% hike on tuition and fees, the move is expected to raise some $14 million annually. Dan Layzell, LSU vice president for finance and administration, told board members the new revenue will fund pay raises and mandated cost increases. The increase is not covered by TOPS, meaning students—or parents—will come out of pocket to cover the cost.

Students at LSU’s main campus won’t be the only ones paying more this fall: certain students at the Paul M. Hebert Law School, School of Veterinary Medicine, LSU Alexandria and LSU Shreveport will also see fee hikes.

The Legislature granted public universities the ability to increase student fees in 2015, and LSU has increased fees every year since. Voters last year rejected a measure that would have allowed schools to raise tuition on their own. Currently the Legislature retains authority over tuition hikes.

Also at today’s meeting, the board took the next step toward hiring a Nevada-based company to run the state’s nascent medical marijuana program. But members also raised questions about the company, GB Sciences, and its financing capabilities.

Before unanimously approving a measure to move forward on contract negotiations, board members were told they would have ample time to ask questions about GB Sciences, a penny stock company that focuses on growing and researching marijuana.

“We are not a pot company. We do research,” GB Sciences CEO John Poss told the board. “We’re as excited about the research as we are the financial opportunity.”

The LSU AgCenter is overseeing the medical marijuana program. Vice President of Agriculture Bill Richardson said he is most excited about the research component.  

“I don’t want to be just another weed grower,” Richardson said. “We like the research aspect of this.”

As proposed, LSU’s contract with GB Sciences would be for five years with the option for two five-year renewals.

—Sam Karlin

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