For a very long time, growing as well as consuming marijuana and hemp have been illegal in the whole world. They both belong to the same cannabis family that has been considered as Schedule 1 drug for many years. Even now, when the world is accepting the legalization of cannabis step by step, there are many restrictions and prohibitions. Can it change some day?
Each state has its own rules; usually, only a few certified companies are allowed to grow weed. However, the plant still needs to be researched more deeply. That is why Louisiana colleges are fighting for the right to grow and research hemp and its “relative” marijuana.
University agricultural centers may be able to grow the plant soon enough. The case was pushed forward by the House Agriculture Committee that approved two bills concerning the growing of these previously illegal plants. They will give the universities the right to receive the opportunity to grow and research the plant's uses for industrial and medical purposes.
All universities that plan to get such right have to pay an annual fee of $110,000 for operating the medical cannabis growing facility. If they intend to sell medical marijuana to pharmacies, the universities have to be ready to give away seven percent of their income to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
According to the new bills, the first institutions to have the legal right to grow cannabis will be LSU Ag Center and the Southern University Ag Center. The bills will also set up a system and regulate the production and distribution of cannabis. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry will be responsible for the whole process and regulate the production.
Ideally, these two bills will also help patients who cannot obtain the drug that has been legally prescribed to them. This is a great opportunity for the whole medical system of the state.
However, this legalization has to be the most scrutinized thing ever done by the local government. To minimize all harmful consequences of the new legislation, the authorities have to implement a very strict regulation system. There is no doubt that it will be very complex and thoroughly thought through.
Because of the specificity of the state's program, there is no other model to compare it to, and the authorities have to do great work to accomplish the task. While some other states are oriented at the business side of the cannabis industry, Louisiana is looking at the plant from the pharmaceutical perspective. And so they intend to create medical products.
The proposal also includes the aspect of pharmacies distributing the drug. They will have to get a new license because their current federal ones do not include the right to sell marijuana.
However, there is one downside to the bills. They are not accepted by the Louisiana Cannabis Association because of the seven percent fee that the facilities will have to send to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The association believes that the sum is too large to give away. However, it should be mentioned that even when the bill passes, the universities will decide for themselves whether to start growing hemp or marijuana or not. It all depends on their financial situation and expectations.
Rep. Bubba Chaney also mentioned that the system would be feasible in terms of payment, and some new revenue stream for the LSU and Southern systems may be introduced.