There are a lot of good things happening with the Louisiana medical marijuana program. The Legislature listened to patient input and made a comprehensive overhaul of the medical marijuana laws to address many of the known problems holding back the program and limiting patient access. Patients will have greater access to healthcare providers through the availability of telemedicine (Act 491) and by allowing nurse practitioners and psychologists to make recommendations (Act 444). Patients will have greater access to products by expanding the number of pharmacies – up to 30 locations around the state (Act 491) and mandating monthly home delivery (Act 491). Also, the Legislature addressed known bottlenecks to ensure a reliable, adequate, and uninterrupted supply of products to patients by transferring regulatory authority from the Department of Agriculture & Forestry to the Department of Health (Act 491) and authorizing more labs to conduct final tests of all products (Act 491). Due to transition and implementation time, we should start seeing positive improvements from this overhaul in 90-180 days.
The Department of Health is working with private accredited labs to make sure patients are getting tested and approved products. The first private lab is expected to be approved and operational by November 15 and will test potency for a complete panel of cannabinoids, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes giving patients more information about the products. The current lab –the Department of Agriculture & Forestry lab – tests and reports potency results for only THC, THCa, CBD, and CBDa. The private labs should also cut down the delay for approving products from over 40 days to under 5 days, making a variety of products more readily available to patients. Right now from Good Day Farm alone, there are over 900 pounds of packaged flower, over 50,000 metered-dose inhalers, over 20,000 bags of gummies, and over 8,000 tinctures waiting in storage for final test results. The delay in getting products to patients should be fixed when there are more approved and operational labs.
Despite the delays caused by only having one lab, the product variety has been pretty remarkable in the first nine months of flower being available. For example, Good Day Farm’s goal for 2022 was to release 40 unique cultivars of flower. Based on pharmacy records as of September, Good Day Farm has released 39 unique cultivars and expects to release another 15 unique cultivars this year for 50+ unique cultivars of flower supplying different cannabinoids, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes. For 2022, Good Day Farm has also released 41 unique SKUs of gummies, metered-dose inhalers, syringes, tinctures, and creams, with honey, chocolates, and other unique products on the way.
Good Day Farm continues to ramp up production at their 225,000-square feet facility in Ruston. Phases I and II are operational with approx. 40,000 square feet of cultivation space. By the end of March 2023, Phase III will add approx. 40,000 square feet of cultivation for over 80,000 square feet of garden. Good Day Farm has hired a diverse workforce of over 215 employees and expects to have as many as 350 employees growing plants and making products for the patients of Louisiana.