Cannabis seeds are in the soil in Louisiana today. The state just planted its first legal cannabis crop, plants which will eventually end up in the hands of Louisiana’s medical cannabis patients as pills and oils. But to get here, growers had to wait patiently through a sluggish regulatory review process. That process is still ongoing, but Louisiana’s Agricultural Commissioner has reached something of a compromise with the grower GB Sciences. GB Sciences can’t start growing in their full facility. They can, however, begin planting in a self-contained “pod”.
Louisiana’s First Medical Cannabis Crop Will Live Its Entire Life Inside a Pod
GB Sciences, a cannabis cultivator in partnership with Louisiana State University’s AgCenter, has received a temporary go-ahead from the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain. The soft approval came after a grueling four-hour meeting between regulators, cultivators and university officials on Tuesday, followed by a facility inspection on Thursday.
In fact, Wednesday’s meeting was the first time Strain met with GB Sciences President John Davis. Some speculate a story in which Davis and the state’s nine dispensary owners blasted the slow regulatory process helped prompt the meeting that led to GB Science’s temporary approval.
Today, the company moved forward with production, planting Louisiana’s first, legal medical cannabis crop. GB Sciences will grow future crops at its full facility in Baton Rouge. It’s first one, however, will live its entire life inside a self-contained grow pod.
From germination all the way through packaging, GB Sciences will produce Louisiana’s first medical cannabis crop in a specialized “exterior pod” the company built for the express purpose of expediting the cultivation process.
The pod is able to meet all of Louisiana’s stringent regulatory standards. And it can be fully operational while inspections continue at the larger production facility. Without it, GB Sciences could not have received the go-ahead to grow from Strain. Growers are currently finishing setting up the pod. They say it will take until November for the plants mature.
Medical Cannabis Should Be Available In Louisiana Dispensaries In November
The regulatory process has certainly held up progress. Still, Louisiana has lately taken some important steps toward growing and improving access to its medical marijuana program. Despite legalizing cannabis for certain medical uses in 2015, the state didn’t set up implementation until 2016. But earlier this year, lawmakers passed a pair of bills expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, including adding a provision for adults and children with autism.
Louisiana has also taken steps to change the way it handles minor cannabis use and possession. Now, violators receive fines instead of jail time. And arrest rates for cannabis have plummeted as a result. The policy shift began in New Orleans, but was so successful that officials brought it to the rest of the state.