SU presents medical marijuana vendor recommendation to board

Halen Doughty

Southern University is one step closer to getting medical marijuana into the hands of Louisiana patients. The university presented its vendor recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which is expected to take up the issue at a meeting on September 22.

Seven vendors submitted applications, and Southern chose Med Louisiana, Advanced Bio Medical, and Southern Roots Therapeutics as the top three contenders. Approving a vendor is the last major hurdle to start the process of producing the state's cannabis. The university has not yet chosen a location for the secure indoor growing facility, which will be funded through third-party donors.

The drug, once available, will not come in a smoke-able plant form. Oils extracted from the cannabis will go into pills that can be taken orally. Availability is limited to patients who suffer from HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, and other debilitating diseases.

The medical marijuana program is a great opportunity for Southern University to produce quality medicine that will help individuals who suffer from debilitating illnesses,” said Janana Snowden, Ph.D., Director of the Southern Institute of Medicinal Plants.

Southern and LSU are the only two entities in the state that will grow medical marijuana after Parks Senator Fred Mills authored legislation last year outlining how the drug will be dispensed. Parks filed the measure at the request of parents with epileptic children. Medical marijuana is more effective at treating certain kinds of epilepsy, which can sometimes result in children having upwards of 500 seizures a day.

In June, LSU selected Las Vegas-based GB Sciences as its vendor. The selection was also presented to the Board of Supervisors. LSU hopes to have the product on the shelves by early 2018. Southern and LSU each obtained separate licenses to grow the product, choosing not to partner in the endeavor.

The two universities will conduct medical marijuana research, while simultaneously delivering relief to patients throughout the state. Southern recently developed the Medicinal Plant Institute to research the medicinal properties of many plants, including cannabis. The cultivation will also generate additional revenue for the university to use in maintaining existing programs.

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