Medical marijuana behind schedule, again, but program making progress

    Early February is the new best case scenario for when medical marijuana will be available at the nine pharmacies licensed to sell it under Louisiana’s upstart program.

    That’s according to John Davis, president of GB Sciences, the only licensed grower in the state, who says while February is a little later than planned, the program is moving forward and successfully working through the stumbling blocks it experienced earlier this fall.

    “In the past 30-45 days the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has done a complete 180,” Davis says. “There has been a lot more conversation and coordination.”

    GB Sciences, which is partnering with the LSU AgCenter, and the LDAF, the program’s regulator, found themselves at odds earlier this fall over several issues related to how the product was being grown and how it would be tested. But the issues seemed to stem, in part, from a lack of communication and coordination.

    Since early November, communication has improved, according to Davis and AgCenter officials, who have been talking more frequently with the LDAF.

    Still, the product rollout has been pushed back, once again, which Davis attributes largely to the fact the program is new and the state is trying to “make sure they get it right.”

    In late November, the state collected samples from GB Sciences’ facility on Highland Road of a concentrate made from the marijuana and is currently testing it for chemicals and pesticides. That process is expected to take between four and six weeks, Davis says.

    Once the results come back, assuming they don’t identify any problems, GB Sciences will formulate the concentrate into a tincture, which also will be tested. That whole process will take several more weeks, though the second round of testing is not expected to be as long as the first.

    Once the final product is given the green light, GB Sciences can begin selling to the licensed retailers.

    “They’re getting a little anxious, but that’s because we’re so close to the finish line,” he says.

    The state also recently completed an inspection of the indoor grow space GB Sciences will use moving forward at the Highland Road facility. The first batch of marijuana it grew was grown in an outdoor space the state said could not be used permanently. Davis says the inspection found only minor problems, which is good news, that can easily be corrected within a few days.

    “I equate it to minor punch list items on a construction project,” he says. “We should have those taken care of by next week and be up and ready to begin full-scale production by January first.”

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