A regulatory bottleneck in Louisiana’s medical marijuana 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. Armed with letters from constituents and business owners who have hit roadblocks trying to either buy or sell the pharmaceutical-grade products, lawmakers on the commission grilled officials with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry over the program’s slow rollout. “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. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry is the primary regulator for medical marijuana 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. Villio, a former prosecutor, 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. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain and program director Tabitha Irvin defended the agency’s strict protocol. Irvin said they follow a set of machinery guidelines written by the Louisiana Department of Health. Strain said his agency uses strict machinery guidelines to prevent contamination from pathogens such as Listeria, a serious foodborne illness that kills about 260 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Marijuana Moment, Marijuana Moment, 11/20/2021 10:22:00