Ag Commissioner says he’s not trying to ‘hinder’ medical marijuana production

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Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is firing back at the LSU AgCenter, saying the state’s medical marijuana program is in limbo because LSU declined to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the department.

Strain’s statement, issued this afternoon, comes a few hours after LSU issued a response to what it called the commissioner’s previous “reckless and unsupported” allegations that LSU illegally moved part of its cannabis crop into two rooms in its main growing facility, which has yet to begin full production. LSU’s statement further called on the commissioner to allow the program—which has been in the works for two years and still has no product release date—to proceed.

But Strain maintains LSU is not in compliance with the law. The MOU requires LSU and its private growing partner in the program, GB Sciences, to agree to several terms related to the grower’s suitability.

“Nothing is being done to hinder the production of medical marijuana,” Strain says in the statement. “The reason for issuing the Memorandum of Understanding is to allow LSU AgCenter, the licensee, to supervise its subcontractor, GBSL, during hours of operation at the facility until the suitability determination is approved. LSU, the licensee, is deemed suitable by law, but GBSL, the subcontractor, is not.”

Suitability, the statement reads, is determined through a process that involves criminal, civil and financial background checks. By signing the MOU, LSU can supervise GBSL until the suitability process is completed and approved by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, which regulates the medical marijuana program.

Furthermore, says Strain, the MOU allows LSU-GBSL to legally move forward with production pending a suitability background check by the Louisiana State Police. While GBSL has submitted background information to the police, the police haven’t finished their investigation and released its final report to the LDAF or consideration of approval.

“The LDAF cannot give LSU-GBSL the authority to break the law,” Strain’s statement reads. “However, LSU-GBSL can be in compliance to only move plant material into the requested rooms … by signing the MOU, which was clearly a requirement as noted in the original letter dated Feb. 28, 2019.”

LSU said this morning the MOU’s requirements far “exceed the authority of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and … is outside the scope of rules promulgated by the state for the program.”

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