Southern University is one of two medical cannabis license-holders in Louisiana. As part of the state’s legislation, the school must partner with a private business to grow and distribute products. The school’s expertise is meant as a research-grounded backbone for the business enterprise.
Baton Rouge-based Ilera Holistic Healthcare contracted with Southern University in late 2018 to begin cultivating cannabis and developing products for Louisiana patients. (The school had previously contracted with Advanced Biomedics, which didn’t get far with its cannabis cultivation plans.)
Now, Ilera is bringing its products to market. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Ilera is making its tinctures and topicals available to Louisiana’s nine licensed dispensaries (“pharmacies” in the state’s terminology). As the state law is written, flower is not permitted.
“The more products which come on board, the cheaper the cost becomes and the easier access for patients,” H&W Dispensary owner Henry Ruston told the newspaper. “One of the biggest challenges we had was changing the stigma of marijuana. We had a lot of patients in pain and they were thinking of marijuana as smoking up and stuff, but this is something you just put under your tongue.”The other player in the state’s medical cannabis market is Louisiana State University, which first worked with GB Sciences out of Nevada to cultivate its plants. In late 2019, GB Sciences sold its Louisiana subsidiary to Wellcana Group.
While the state’s medical cannabis law was approved by legislators in 2016, the path to a competitive marketplace has been slow. Along the way, companies have come and gone, while patients have railed against regulators and businesses for delaying access to medicine. Even now, with Ilera formally entering the retail end of the supply chain, prices remain high across the state.
Beginning next month, however, physicians in Louisiana will be allowed to recommend medical cannabis for any condition that is “debilitating to an individual patient and is qualified” to be treated. The thinking is that this will open the marketplace to more patients and galvanize the supply-and-demand curves.