Louisiana has legalized marijuana for use as a medical treatment, but an obstacle course of procedures stands between residents and the actual use of the drug. Meanwhile, Louisiana legislators are standing strong against the idea of legislation to regulate recreational use.

The state has limited production to two state universities and has strict regulations for any research related to marijuana that is completed in the state.

Marijuana advocates feel that Louisiana’s policy is a strong example of over-regulation, going so far as to note that the program is against the interests of the patients it is intended to serve.

The legislation is unclear on how potent the medication can be and also leaves physicians open to punishment for recommending a treatment that is legal within the state. Meanwhile, the drug itself is not expected to become available until late January of 2019.

LSU AgCenter has already harvested a crop of marijuana, while Southern University has set a goal of harvest by the second quarter of 2019, citing issues with former management and lack of sufficient facilities as impediments to progress thus far.

The LSU crop is facing its own delays, however, as the testing phase has been delayed for more than a month. Officials hope to see the process smoothed out and testing completed by early December. As of November, the LDAF (Louisiana’s regulatory agency for medical marijuana) does not have a testing lab up and running. This has further impeded efforts to get cannabis to the medical patients in the state who would benefit most from the approved treatment.

A 47-acre property near the Southern University Ag Center is being considered for purchase, at which point temporary grow pods will be installed and a crop could be five weeks in the future at that point. A more permanent facility will be constructed, with a projected timeframe of one year until completion for that project.

The research plans for Southern University are moving forward as well. New managing partner Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Ilera Healthcare, recently paid Southern University $150,000 for the purpose of furthering marijuana research on campus. The campus will have a research space in the final facility for marijuana growth as well.