Patients in Louisiana could see medical cannabis products on dispensary store shelves as soon as next week, according to an announcement from state regulators on Monday. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain said in a press release that the initial batch of cannabis oil formulations had been received from GB Sciences of Louisiana for laboratory analyses by the agency.
“Once testing is completed and the product passes for homogeneity, potency and is deemed free of contaminants, it will be ready for distribution,” said Strain.
GB Sciences is cultivating cannabis and producing cannabis products for the state’s medical marijuana program, working as a subcontractor for Louisiana State University. Strain told reporters that it should take about seven business days to test the samples delivered to the LDAF by the company. If any issues arise during testing, however, the process could take longer.
“Hopefully if everything is good by next week it will be cleared and moving to the pharmacies,” Strain said.
Product Packaged and Ready for Sale
LDAF personnel picked up a randomly selected sample of cannabis products from GB Sciences merchandise ready to be distributed to dispensaries. The products include cannabis oil drops and inhalers for delivery of the medication. Formulations high in THC, high in CBD, or with a balanced ratio of the cannabinoids will be available.
“The samples are of the final finished product in their packaging,” Strain said.
The products will be tested for potency, homogeneity, and contaminants.
LSU Vice President Bill Richardson said that the university is looking forward to its first supply of medical marijuana products being made available to patients once testing is complete.
“The LSU AgCenter is excited that our therapeutic cannabis products will soon be cleared by LDAF for distribution to licensed Louisiana pharmacies,” Richardson said. “Patients with debilitating conditions that have obtained a recommendation from a certified physician will be able to obtain this product.”
Tight Rules and Regulatory Delays Plague Program
Under the rules of the Louisiana medical marijuana program, cannabis may only be grown by LSU and Southern University and their partners. On July 22, Southern and its partner Advanced Biomedics, which is doing business as Ilera Hollistic Healthcare, received authorization from state regulators to begin growing medical cannabis. The company will soon be planting the seeds for its first crop.
“Southern is moving forward but it takes three to five months to grow the crop before it can be processed and tested,” Strain said.
Passed by voters in 2015, Louisiana’s medical marijuana program has now seen more than four years of delay in its implementation. Tight regulations of the program and its slow rollout have led to frustration for many patients who have been waiting for a legal source of their medicine.