Southern University's medical marijuana program changes investors
BATON ROUGE - Southern University's long-delayed medical marijuana program got a fresh start Monday. The system board approved new investors to move forward with the university's grow operation.
Pennsylvania-based Ilera Holistic Healthcare purchased the company originally selected for the task, Lafayette-based Advanced Biomedics. The chief investors at Advanced fell into a legal battle earlier this year and Southern had threatened to move forward without them.
"Needless to say the university was somewhat disappointed about the progress that had been made but nonetheless we're very excited about the new ownership group," said Southern University President Ray Belton.
Ilera made an initial payment of $2.15 million to the university Monday. It is committed to a $6 million investment overall.
The company plans to start work soon on a temporary marijuana grow facility a few miles north of the Baton Rouge campus on Old Scenic Highway. The first batch of marijuana-derived CBD oil could be ready by the second quarter of 2019 according to investors.
"It's my priority to be a part of this process and bring medicine to the people of this state," said Ilera's President Chanda Macias.
Some board members had suggested a return to the bid process but ultimately voted to recognize the new investors who had purchased the existing company.
The agriculture centers at Southern University and LSU are the only entities in Louisiana allowed to grow medical marijuana for processing into CBD oil. LSU has already begun its grow operation with the first crop due soon.