Dr. Chou’s Opinion Regarding the Product Delays

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Background

So as you know, the product for patients in Louisiana’s medical marijuana program has been continually delayed.

We were initially told products would be available in August 2018.  Now, in early February 2019, we still don’t have any specific credible timeline.

I know patients are very frustrated.  As your doctor, I’m also frustrated that you still cannot access this potential treatment option.

 

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GB Sciences Timeline

First off, please be aware that these current timelines are best case scenarios, and as you know from past experience, can always be pushed back seemingly at will.

With regards to GB Sciences, their last public announcement was for products to be available in March to May of 2019.  However, they specifically declined to give any affirmation of this timeline their last opportunity to do so.

They have also stated that they do not want to release product unless they are able to provide a consistent supply.

They have only recently begun the approval process to start cultivating in their main facility.  From here, it will take a few months to grow, cultivate, and produce a consistent supply.

In my estimation, May is a best case scenario, assuming all regulatory approvals, testing results, and cultivation parameters all align perfectly.

More realistically, I think late summer is where we should expect products from GB Sciences to hit the shelves.

 

Ilera Holistic Healthcare Timeline

Ilera’s program is far behind GB Sciences.  They only recently signed an agreement for a production space in Baker.  From my sources, they have not begun any type of renovation, much less any type of growing operation.

At the LDAF Stakeholder’s meeting on January 28th, they suggested products could be available from them in September.  Many attendees questioned if their guidance was too optimistic, and I agree with that sentiment.

Realistically, I don’t expect Ilera to have products available until late in 2019.

 

Testing Procedures

So one of the areas that has held things up is the testing procedures required by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.  Early on, there seemingly was a lot of miscommunication, with GB Sciences not talking to LDAF, and vice versa.

However, my honest feeling is that a lot of the communication problems have been worked out, and now we are just encountering issues with testing.

We need to recognize that testing marijuana is important.  Because it is a grown substance, every batch of product needs to have the same consistency and composition, and needs to be free of contaminants that are known to collect in marijuana, such as heavy metals, mold, pesticides, and solvents.

As a patient or a parent, you don’t want to be spending hundreds of dollars a month on medication that changes from batch to batch, doesn’t have the intended effect, or causes unexpected side effects.

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I certainly don’t want that for my patients.  So I do agree that we need to have stringent testing processes and procedures in place to make sure patients get a high quality and safe product each and every time.

I do believe that while it’s taking a long time right now, the pace will quicken as the production and testing becomes more routine to all involved.

 

Dispensary Update

So as you can expect, since there are only two companies in Louisiana that are allowed to grow medical marijuana, there will be no products available at dispensaries until GB Sciences or Ilera Holistic Healthcare releases their products.

Until then, the dispensaries are unlikely to be open.  Even if they were, they would have nothing to sell you.

The one piece of good news is that if products are not available until summer 2019 or later, all 9 licensed dispensaries should be open at that time.

 

Summary

So I know it must be very frustrating, and difficult, as a patient to have no products available yet.  I share your frustrations.

I am doing everything I can, from contacting the media to attending relevant stakeholders meetings to advocacy on behalf of patients, to make this a reality for you.

Please be patient as we all work through the roadblocks and get this system working.

Thank you for reading

 

 

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Doctor Victor Chou, M.D.

Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana

MarijuanaClinicLa.com

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