A regulatory bottleneck in Louisiana’s medical cannabis supply chain has inflated costs far beyond the prices found in other states, according to industry experts who testified at the Louisiana Legislature’s Medical Marijuana Commission meeting Thursday.
The Department of Agriculture and Forestry is the primary regulator for medical cannabis in Louisiana and is responsible for testing any cannabis products before they are sold to dispensaries and any equipment used to cultivate, process, or prepare those products. These tests are holding up the process.
“When I look at the back-and-forth, it looks like micromanagement,” said Rep. Debbie Villio (R-Kenner), referring to comments exchanged between a licensee and state regulators who were quibbling over minute details in an application for a new piece of machinery. Villio pointed out that the regulators were telling the licensee to change numerous small details in a machine’s standard operating procedure (SOP) manual such as to use the word “mixer” instead of “pan” and to clarify if a word written on a beaker is actually written on a sticker that is then placed on the beaker.
Rep. Scott McKnight (R-Baton Rouge) said the state’s two growers have adequate supply, but it has been backed up awaiting testing and approval from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, which uses LSU’s physical chemistry lab to test the cannabis. “The business-to-business supply chain right now is interrupted,” McKnight said, adding that the backup has led to an inflated “false price” for the drug.
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