Limited release’ of marijuana slated for May, with full supply in the fall, grower says

One of Louisiana’s two medical marijuana growers is planning to do a “limited release” of the drug in May, a move aimed at getting treatments to those most in need amid demands from frustrated patients and pharmacy owners.

GB Sciences, the firm hired by LSU to run its marijuana-growing program, will take product it has already made in a temporary facility and release it to the state’s nine licensed pharmacies, GB Sciences Louisiana President John Davis said at a medical marijuana stakeholder meeting at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture offices in Baton Rouge.

After that, the company’s first full harvest of plants in the main facility that it just moved into won’t happen until August. It will take about a month to turn that into tinctures for sale to patients, Davis said.

“We want to go forward with the pharmacies with a limited release so we can get medicine to the most critically in-need patients,” Davis said.

“In general we would like to aim for May,” Davis said. “We know there are a lot of things involved with that,” he added. “We know it’s not going to supply the whole market.”

While GB Sciences is working to produce marijuana in its main facility, it will also be doing several harvests in the temporary pod, Davis said. After August, the company will be fully operating.

Patients and advocates packed the room Monday for the second meeting in a row to complain about repeated delays of the state’s medical marijuana program. Lawmakers passed legislation outlining the program in 2015, and set the program forward in 2016.

The Louisiana Association of Therapeutic Alternatives, which represents the state’s marijuana pharmacies and some doctors and patients, demanded product hit the shelves by May 15.

“We need this medication,” said Doug Boudreaux, head of the association and owner of a north Louisiana marijuana pharmacy. “We’re desperate for this medication.”

The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy selected nine pharmacies to sell marijuana in different regions throughout the state last spring. The board has since issued five of nine permits, while four others are awaiting inspections, said Carlos Finalet, general counsel for the pharmacy board.

While GB Sciences said it will release the drug in May, it is not clear who will be eligible to get access to the drug if it does become available then, as Davis made clear the amount of product would not be enough meet the demands of the entire market. The company will know soon how much product it will have for the May release, Davis said in an interview.

View full article here


LSU fires back in cannabis flap, calls Strain’s accusations reckless, untrue

(Daily Advertiser)- LSU AgCenter Vice President Bill Richardson on Friday, March 8, 2019, fired back at Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, calling Strain’s accusation that LSU is breaking the law by expanding its medical marijuana program “untrue” and “reckless.”

It’s the latest volley in an escalating feud between LSU AgCenter and Strain over the state’s fledgling cannabis program.

“Commissioner Strain made reckless and unsupported public accusations against the LSU AgCenter and GB Sciences Louisiana (LSU’s private partner) and threatened litigation,” Richardson said in a statement. “The allegations made by Commissioner Strain are simply untrue.”

The LSU AgCenter and Southern University AgCenter are the only ones who can legally grow the cannabis and produce the medicine, but Strain is the regulator who must sign off on their ability to proceed.

Though medical cannabis has been legal for years, it has yet to reach pharmacies and patients because of regulatory hurdles for LSU and its private partner GB Sciences. Southern’s program lags LSU because of early issues with its original private partner.

LSU contends Strain’s agency granted permission last week to proceed with moving the first crop from a small temporary growing pod into the main facility, but Strain said the move was based on a proposed contract with conditions that LSU refused to sign.

“They’ve fought the law every step of the way,” Strain said Monday in an exclusive interview with USA Today Network. “We’ve sent them a notice that they’re in violation of the law and we’ll proceed to a (court hearing).

“It’s crystal clear the movement of the plants was contingent on signing the memorandum of understanding,” said Strain, who said LSU AgCenter has resisted oversight from the beginning.

Richadson said the written offer from Strain to move the plants wasn’t reliant on signing the memorandum of understanding, insisting that was separate from the permission to move the plants.

“Relying on this written approval from the LDAF, the LSU AgCenter moved plant material into the two specific rooms on Friday, March 1, 2019,” Richards said. “The following Monday, an LDAF inspector issued a deficiency notice to the LSU AgCenter for doing what Commissioner Strain expressly approved the week before.”

Richardson said patients are suffering while he contends Strain is unnecessarily dragging his feet.

“Commissioner Strain’s actions are preventing thousands of patients from receiving the medical relief that they are anxiously awaiting and deserve,” Richardson said. “The LSU AgCenter calls on Commissioner Mike Strain to immediately allow this program to proceed, so that the patients of Louisiana can receive the medicine to which they are legally entitled.”

Strain has said LSU and GB Sciences are resisting providing information to Louisiana State Police for a required “suitability study,” or extensive background check that must be complete before Strain gives his blessing.

“Nothing is being done to hinder production of medical marijuana,” Strain said Friday in a statement. “The reason for issuing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 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, as required by law, includes but is not limited to criminal, civil and financial background checks. In accordance with the MOU, LSU can supervise GBSL, the subcontractor, until the suitability process is completed and approved by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

“As of now, LSU-GBSL is not in compliance. Again, the LDAF cannot give LSU-GBSL the authority to break the law. However, LSU-GBSL can be in compliance to only move plant material into the requested rooms (Mother room and Vegetative room) by signing the MOU which was clearly a requirement as noted in the original letter dated February 28, 2019.”

Read the full article at klfy.com


Our opinion: Medical marijuana — State must work out the problems

Louisiana has had more than enough time to get its medical marijuana program up and running.

Not only does the state Department of Agriculture have guiding instructions in the form of the 2016 law regulating the effort, but it also has the collective experience of the many other states that have been down this road before us. And, most importantly, it has had two years to get it off the ground.

But still there are delays and confusion.






Mexico Supreme Court Ruling Effectively Legalizes Marijuana Use, Possession and Cultivation

Available Now for Interview and Analysis: DPA International Drug Policy Expert Hannah Hetzer

Contact:
Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Hannah Hetzer 917-701-7060

In two separate rulings Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court effectively set binding precedent that ends the country’s prohibition on marijuana use, possession and cultivation.

The following is a statement from Hannah Hetzer, Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance:

“This is extraordinary because it is taking place in one of the countries that has suffered the most from the war on drugs. With marijuana already legal in Canada, now both of the US’s neighbors will have legal marijuana, making the US federal government’s prohibition of marijuana even more untenable.”

Hetzer is available for live and taped interviews in English and Spanish to provide analysis on this groundbreaking ruling, which paves the way for national legalization in Mexico.

http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2018/11/mexico-supreme-court-ruling-effectively-legalizes-marijuana-use-possession


The Southern University partnership with Advanced Biomedics

The Southern University partnership with Advanced Biomedics (AB) to produce and process therapeutic Cannabis or medical marijuana for the Louisiana patient population is woefully behind schedule.  Given that the state of Louisiana opted to have the fewest number of producers in the country among legal medical marijuana (mmj) states, this situation creates yet another serious problem for the larger program.  With LSU’s partnership having recently harvested their first crop, this puts the mmj supply in the hands of a sole source provider or monopoly.
Monopolies tend to only be good for one entity – that which holds the monopoly.  Under these circumstances that will surely last for at least another year while SU gets their house in order, the patients of Louisiana will continue to suffer.  It has been forty (40) years now since Louisiana remarkably became one of the first four states along with  IL, NM and FL to have any therapeutic Cannabis  program on the books.  There is an excellent non-profit dedicated to patients and mmj education called “Patients Out of Time” (https://www.medicalcannabis.com) and to borrow from their moniker, Louisiana patients too are out of time.  At SMPL, we think of all the many patients within our state and membership who are currently suffering.  They suffer in ways that they certainly shouldn’t have to while they wait for the Louisiana mmj program to get past the decades of delays, overcome the resistance and dysfunction and finally place meaningful medicines on the shelves for them to try.  There is no guarantee any of it will work for all of them, but it most certainly will work for many of them and each deserves a chance to try.  The only guarantee at this point is that there is a lot more unnecessary waiting ahead.
The excellent article below provides another look inside of the Louisiana mmj program and it provides additional important details on the 1/2 of production under the control of Southern University.  What it does not yet explain are these things: (1) Why Southern University has allowed their partner, AB, to continue for over a year without showing any tangible signs of progress of any kind – no land, no building, no equipment, no contracts, no staff of any kind, (2) How much longer this non-functioning program will be allowed to continue, (3) Aside from the promised cash to SU that has never materialized, why SU chose AB in the first place or allowed them to continue when none of the benchmarks were met or contracts for any staff or experts were in place, (4) Whether there is any minority ownership or SU alumni involvement in AB, and (5) How the details of the Perret deal to purchase a majority of AB from Castille reveal a “flipping” effort to take control of the contract from one Lafayette area man with no capacity to produce or process mmj and transfer it to another Lafayette area man who similarly has no team in place to cultivate, extract and produce Cannabis medicines for the patients of our state.
While all of this festers at the expense of Louisiana’s patients, the SU leadership has thus far done little to nothing to intervene and assert the control that was granted to them by the Louisiana legislature.  The legislators and elected officials, thus far, have been willing to look the other way while this situation continues.  Meanwhile, all SU would need to do in order to confirm that AB is a “house of cards” in breach of their contract is to request a copy of any of the employment agreements or contracts with any of their alleged team.  Doing this would also reveal that AB was wrongly awarded points by the SU review committee for a “team” that only existed on the application papers, but that never actually existed in real time.  Thus, SU chose a “team” that had a combined total of zero (0) years of experience in the industry, no capacity or ability to deliver on the promises to the University to produce mmj and, in fact, none of the minority or SU alumni ownership or participation that Southern purported to want in their partnership.
That last part is also very damning because the larger national mmj industry suffers from a pitiful paucity of minority and particularly black ownership or even employment (~1-5%) and this was to have been the golden opportunity for the only HBCU in the country with any involvement in the industry to make a real difference in that regard.  SU has within it’s reach the ability to hire the best and the brightest in this industry and to train the next generation of Cannabis experts and entrepreneurs.  Meanwhile, wealthy white LA republicans with no experience or even any actual interest in mmj (beyond the money) are busy flipping or trying to flip this contract for literally millions of dollars while SU sits idly by and empty handed and the patients are still suffering.  Below, this article in the Advocate is the closest we’re going to get for now at a fuller picture of what is happening behind the scenes over at Southern University – a quasi-governmental entity.  Alas, it appears that Louisiana could still mess up a lemonade stand and so far, Southern itself isn’t making the grade, but rest assured that SMPL is keeping a watchful eye.

MSU RECEIVES $2.4M NIH GRANT TO ADVANCE CANNABIS RESEARCH

Norbert Kaminski, a toxicologist who has studied the effects of Cannabis since 1990, has received a five-year, $2.4 million NIH grant to further his research on the role of Cannabis in decreasing brain inflammation in HIV patients. Kaminski and his team will take blood samples from several hundred HIV patients who will report whether or not they use medical marijuana. From there, they will assess various aspects of the patients’ immune system as it may relate to indicators of systemic inflammation.

His work also could shed light on inflammation that occurs in other brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, with hopes of the research leading to additional therapeutic options. It’s a very interesting research proposal and we’re eager to learn more about it and eventually see the results.

SMPL still has concerns about any federally-funded research in this era simply because of the plant material used in conducting any of these studies. NIH-funded research necessarily uses Cannabis from the Mississippi plot which is of notoriously low quality. It does not remotely resemble any available from state-legal mmj pharmacies or dispensaries and it doesn’t resemble the black market supply either. It is much lower in THC, it is regularly moldy and it arrives to any approved researchers only in a pulverized form which appears to be the result of placing whole plant (stems and all) into a food processor. Some scientists have publicly criticized the NIH and DEA for this situation as it unnecessarily compromises the utility of their results and may even put test subjects at risk due to contamination. Nevertheless, we applaud this research and wish Dr. Kaminski all success in this vital research.

https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2018/msu-receives-24m-nih-grant-to-advance-cannabis-research/?mc_cid=2261abaf28&mc_eid=463bbdd375


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