Southern University Set to Launch First Medical Marijuana Program at Historically Black College

The Louisiana-based Southern University and A&M College might see an influx of applicants now that they have launched a medical marijuana program.
Southern University Set to Launch First Medical Marijuana Program at a Historically Black College
Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

The world of medical marijuana has seen some potentially big advancements in recent days. These breakthroughs have come as Southern University and A&M College, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has entered a new partnership with medical marijuana company Advanced Biomedics. This is important because Southern University is the first historically black college or university (HBCU) to launch a medical marijuana program.

Southern University Launches Medical Marijuana Program

The partnership between Advanced Biomedics and Southern University was finalized at the end of May. Under the arrangement, Southern University will oversee a number of medical marijuana-related projects.

In particular, the school’s Agricultural Center will be in charge of growing and producing medical-grade cannabis products. In addition, the school will also conduct new medical marijuana research.

On the other side of the partnership, Advanced Biomedics has agreed to provide the school with $6 million in funding. That amount will cover an initial five years of work. From there, the school and company are already planning to extend the partnership.

According to local news source WAFB, the contract will automatically renew for two additional five-year periods. In addition, Advanced Biomedics is reportedly giving the school an extra $1 million as a signing bonus. That bonus will be given every time the school renews its contract.

Now that the contract has been finalized, the school is waiting to complete a couple more steps, including background checks. Southern University can move forward as soon as the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry completes the background check and gives them the green light.

At that point, the school said it plans to build a new growing facility. It will be built on a 176-acre plot of land already owned by the school. As soon as everything is up and running, SU expects to have its first batch of medical marijuana products on the Louisiana market by early 2019.

“This is a momentous event. We are extremely excited to be able to provide quality medicine for the citizens of Louisiana,” said Bobby Phills, chancellor of SU’s Ag Center. “This groundbreaking research opportunity will also provide revenue for the university and economic development in north Baton Rouge.

First HBCU Medical Marijuana Program

This new partnership is an important breakthrough for the medical marijuana space. In particular, the legal marijuana industry has come under critique for its lack of diversity, especially when it comes to race.

Across the legal market, a disproportionate number of weed businesses are run by white men. In this context, is an especially important step to have an HBCU taking a key role in growing, producing, and researching medical marijuana.

On a local level, SU’s new medical marijuana program could help the Baton Rouge community. The school expects the program to create around 40 new jobs. These jobs will be focused on growing and producing medical marijuana products. And as the state of Louisiana works to expand the number of medical marijuana patients, the extra production coming out of SU could go a long way.

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