BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - The state Agriculture Commissioner said today that the LSU AgCenter expects to start cloning cannabis from larger "mother" plants in June to create medical marijuana.
Dr. Mike Strain, who heads the agriculture and forestry department, said his agency had received $80,000 from an LSU vendor to begin harvesting tissue for the state's medical marijuana operation. Medical marijuana is not funded in next year's state budget, which starts on July 1st. So the department will ask for a $1.5 million loan to provide software and facilities related to the operation.
Strain's agency is responsible for overseeing the medical marijuana industry within the state, "everything from when the clone tissue of the marijuana goes in the front door till the compound leaves the back door for distribution to the pharmacy," he said. Cloning a cannabis plant entails cutting a small part of a healthy plant and letting it grow by itself using hormonal artificial tissue. The result is a plant genetically identical to the original.
While LSU is getting ready to move forward with its operation, Southern's vendor has not yet revealed when it will be ready to manufacture medical-grade marijuana for sale. Under Louisiana law, pharmacies may only dispense marijuana in non-smokable forms for people with epilepsy, cancer, seizures, and other painful diseases. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy has not yet issued any permits to any of the expected 10 medical marijuana pharmacies.
The state will license one pharmacy in each of the nine designated health care regions and one in an area with high demand for the product.