The University’s agriculture department has been approved to work on a new research initiative of the medicinal use of the marijuana plant.
The measure was approved at the LSU Board of Supervisors meeting on June 22.
The department is working with GB Sciences, a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, to fully support the project. Pennington Biomedical Research Center is also assisting the AgCenter with the project, so no taxpayer dollars will go toward building the facility and managing it.
Hampton Grunewald, associate vice president of the AgCenter, stated the department’s place in the equation is purely research-based.
“Research is what made us feel comfortable with this project. We have no interest in being in the medical marijuana business, but if we can give good research and data then we can help validate the industry,” Grunewald said.
GB Sciences is not able to do research on the cannabis grown in Louisiana. Under Louisiana law, only the University’s agricultural center and Southern University's agricultural department are able to conduct research.
According to Grunewald, the University is one of the first in the country to be working with a company to conduct research on the subject. The University of Mississippi has a similar program, but the legislature in Louisiana is what makes the AgCenter so unique.
“We have talked with many other states and programs about this and they’re all saying Louisiana is doing it right,” Grunewald said. "We are assessing all data and looking at every component possible in order to get good research and data for the future out of this.”
The plant will be located off campus, and no one under the age of 21 will be employed at the plant. GB Sciences will be responsible for building the plant, producing the product and distributing it to 10 licensed pharmacies around the state.
The AgCenter chose GB Sciences after creating a profile of their ideal candidate. Seven companies were interested and only four met the requirements. Of the four, GB was ultimately chosen because of its interest in research.
“Research doesn’t always give you the answer you want, but it does give you an answer,” Grunewald said. "We don’t know what we will learn from this, whether it is very helpful for those who need it or not helpful at all. But we will learn something and the research component is very important in something like this.”