Ex-NFL player wants state investigation into Southern’s medical marijuana contract process

    Former NFL offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is urging the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to investigate Southern University’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program and its contracted grower Advanced Biomedics.

    In a letter obtained by Daily Report, Monroe, a minority owner of Advanced Biomedics, specifically asks Commissioner Mike Strain, the LDAF and Southern Board Chairman Domoine Rutledge to investigate the school’s process for awarding the contract to Advanced Biomedics, alleging the controlling and majority owners of the company—at the time Carencro-businessman Caroll Castille—misled the Southern’s board and the company’s minority owners in order to secure the contract.

    “The ‘dream team’ of scientists and management that was presented to the SU Board was never engaged by the [c]ompany’s ownership to execute the plan,” the letter reads. “It appears to us that Advanced may have simply used all of these dedicated scientists and other administrative professionals to develop a proposal that would mislead SU in order to win the license and manipulate the system to enrich the owners of the [c]ompany.”

    The letter comes six months after Ilera Holistic Healthcare bought majority ownership of Advanced Biomedics. Since taking ownership, the company has resuscitated stalled plans to secure a growing facility and begin cannabis production.

    The letter further alleges that minority owners have been left in the dark about the company’s dealings, and that Ilera hasn’t delivered an operating agreement or supporting documents for the business despite requests. Finally, the letter questions Ilera’s financing, alleging the company has enlisted the help of an out-of-state entity for the project.

    Rutledge, the board chairman, defends the school’s award process and doesn’t intend to ask for an investigation, saying disputes between Advanced Biomedics’ owners is an internal matter within the company.

    Southern continues to have faith in its vendor, says spokeswoman Janene Tate, and the university is receiving consistent progress reports and other supporting documentation indicating that operations are moving as quickly as it had hoped, including approved city-parish permits, construction and payments on schedule. Southern, she adds, can’t speak on the internal business of Advanced Biomedics.

    LDAF Press Secretary Veronica Mosgrove confirmed the department received the letter but says the allegations don’t fall within the agency’s jurisdiction, referring further comment to the Office of State Procurement. Division of Administration Policy & Communication Director Jacques Berry also says the issue falls outside of the administration’s jurisdiction because there were no state dollars being spent by Southern in the procurement process.

    Representatives of Ilera did not respond for comment before this morning’s deadline.

    Those signing the letter requesting an investigation include numerous professionals in the national medical marijuana industry. 

    Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its original publication to remove the reference to Chad Bodin, who was not included in any of the allegations. Daily Report regrets the error. 

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