Louisiana Considers Shifting Medical Marijuana Farming to Private Contractors

The exclusive rights held by Louisiana’s two public universities for medical marijuana farming may soon come to an end as a bill passed by the Legislature is set to fully privatize cultivation in the state.

Sen. Patrick McMath’s Senate Bill 228, which garnered little opposition, now awaits Gov. Jeff Landry’s signature.

Since 2015, Louisiana has only issued two medical marijuana grower licenses, currently held by LSU and Southern University, as mandated by law.

“They are the only two higher education systems in the country that are in the pot business right now,” said McMath. “It is my belief that it’s time we get them out of that business and let them focus on higher education.”

The cultivation licenses for the cannabis farms established by the colleges in partnership with private contractors, Good Day Farm and Ilera Holistic Healthcare, will be transferred under McMath’s bill, allowing them to retain them upon annual renewal.

Good Day Farm, with a larger operation compared to Ilera, holds significant influence due to its connections with influential lawmakers. The company, led by shareholder Donald “Boysie” Bollinger, is well-entrenched in a profitable niche market.

Critics, like former state Rep. Joe Marino, contend that the bill perpetuates a monopoly in the market, limiting opportunities for other companies to secure grower licenses.

Marino’s past attempts to expand cultivation licenses to meet the demand for medical marijuana and enhance affordability have been stymied, leaving the market largely in the hands of Good Day Farm.

As the federal government considers reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug, Good Day Farm stands to consolidate its market dominance. The move to Schedule III would place marijuana alongside drugs like ketamine and testosterone, indicating potential medical benefits.

Amid the legislative changes, efforts are underway to dismantle Louisiana’s consumable hemp industry, inadvertently legalized two years ago, through Senate Bill 237 sponsored by Sen. Thomas Pressly, pending consideration on the House floor.

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