In the 1950s, Bill Richardson grew up on a cotton farm in Missouri. Therefore, he was never able to learn about cannabis. He never heard of it, nobody around him had it, and he definitely did not smoke it.

“I didn’t inhale,” said Richardson, Louisiana State University’s 71-year-old vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture.

Nobody expected Richardson to become a leader of an attempt to get LSU into the cannabis business, but it happened. In May, Louisiana passed a bill approving of medical marijuana for people going through certain conditions. In addition, the bill allows for LSU and Southern University to grow and make marijuana in its liquid form.

Both universities seem to be very open towards marijuana cultivation. But there is one big issue: funding. Nobody knows who is going to give the $10 million to $20 million so that the drug can be produced and sold at pharmacies, all of which would be chosen by the state government. Those who qualify for medical marijuana are not going to be able to access it for more than a year and a half.

The question that cannot be accurately answered is what the bill will mean for the two universities. For instance, there are a few private companies that are trying to come about and gain money from the new industry by working with the colleges. The measure by state Senator Fred Mills, R-Parks, gave the universities no funding to start the project, which means they will need private companies to help them pay for the seeds, laborers, growing facilities, and more.

“All of the money would have to come from venture capitalists, or you’d have to sell bonds,” Adell Brown, the point person at Southern as the university’s interim chancellor for its Agricultural Research and Extension Center, stated.


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