The Southern University partnership with Advanced Biomedics (AB) to produce and process therapeutic Cannabis or medical marijuana for the Louisiana patient population is woefully behind schedule. Given that the state of Louisiana opted to have the fewest number of producers in the country among legal medical marijuana (mmj) states, this situation creates yet another serious problem for the larger program. With LSU’s partnership having recently harvested their first crop, this puts the mmj supply in the hands of a sole source provider or monopoly.
Monopolies tend to only be good for one entity – that which holds the monopoly. Under these circumstances that will surely last for at least another year while SU gets their house in order, the patients of Louisiana will continue to suffer. It has been forty (40) years now since Louisiana remarkably became one of the first four states along with IL, NM and FL to have any therapeutic Cannabis program on the books. There is an excellent non-profit dedicated to patients and mmj education called “Patients Out of Time” (https://www.medicalcannabis.
com) and to borrow from their moniker, Louisiana patients too are out of time. At SMPL, we think of all the many patients within our state and membership who are currently suffering. They suffer in ways that they certainly shouldn’t have to while they wait for the Louisiana mmj program to get past the decades of delays, overcome the resistance and dysfunction and finally place meaningful medicines on the shelves for them to try. There is no guarantee any of it will work for all of them, but it most certainly will work for many of them and each deserves a chance to try. The only guarantee at this point is that there is a lot more unnecessary waiting ahead.
The excellent article below provides another look inside of the Louisiana mmj program and it provides additional important details on the 1/2 of production under the control of Southern University. What it does not yet explain are these things: (1) Why Southern University has allowed their partner, AB, to continue for over a year without showing any tangible signs of progress of any kind – no land, no building, no equipment, no contracts, no staff of any kind, (2) How much longer this non-functioning program will be allowed to continue, (3) Aside from the promised cash to SU that has never materialized, why SU chose AB in the first place or allowed them to continue when none of the benchmarks were met or contracts for any staff or experts were in place, (4) Whether there is any minority ownership or SU alumni involvement in AB, and (5) How the details of the Perret deal to purchase a majority of AB from Castille reveal a “flipping” effort to take control of the contract from one Lafayette area man with no capacity to produce or process mmj and transfer it to another Lafayette area man who similarly has no team in place to cultivate, extract and produce Cannabis medicines for the patients of our state.
While all of this festers at the expense of Louisiana’s patients, the SU leadership has thus far done little to nothing to intervene and assert the control that was granted to them by the Louisiana legislature. The legislators and elected officials, thus far, have been willing to look the other way while this situation continues. Meanwhile, all SU would need to do in order to confirm that AB is a “house of cards” in breach of their contract is to request a copy of any of the employment agreements or contracts with any of their alleged team. Doing this would also reveal that AB was wrongly awarded points by the SU review committee for a “team” that only existed on the application papers, but that never actually existed in real time. Thus, SU chose a “team” that had a combined total of zero (0) years of experience in the industry, no capacity or ability to deliver on the promises to the University to produce mmj and, in fact, none of the minority or SU alumni ownership or participation that Southern purported to want in their partnership.
That last part is also very damning because the larger national mmj industry suffers from a pitiful paucity of minority and particularly black ownership or even employment (~1-5%) and this was to have been the golden opportunity for the only HBCU in the country with any involvement in the industry to make a real difference in that regard. SU has within it’s reach the ability to hire the best and the brightest in this industry and to train the next generation of Cannabis experts and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, wealthy white LA republicans with no experience or even any actual interest in mmj (beyond the money) are busy flipping or trying to flip this contract for literally millions of dollars while SU sits idly by and empty handed and the patients are still suffering. Below, this article in the Advocate is the closest we’re going to get for now at a fuller picture of what is happening behind the scenes over at Southern University – a quasi-governmental entity. Alas, it appears that Louisiana could still mess up a lemonade stand and so far, Southern itself isn’t making the grade, but rest assured that SMPL is keeping a watchful eye.