LA Sen. Fred Mills

“I guess we all know by now that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the nation.”

And that’s what prompted a new performance audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, looking for the reasons why. Karen LeBlanc with the auditor’s office told a state senate committee they examined data from the Department of Corrections for the years 2009 through 2015.

In Tuesday's Senate Agriculture committee, Senator Gerald Long reacted to a House-approved bill allowing the LSU and Southern University Ag Centers to research the growing of cannabis as industrial hemp.

“I think we’re on slippery slopes here,” suggested Long.

The first seed has yet to be planted, but state lawmakers are –- figuratively — tilling the fields to prepare for medical marijuana.

In the House Agriculture committee Thursday, Rayville Rep. Bubba Chaney questioned Ag Commissioner Mike Strain on where LSU and Southern Ag centers stand on starting production, in light of the state budget cutbacks.

“The facility build-out, the cost of that, is that going to be borne by the universities themselves, or the state?” Chaney asked. “What’s the opportunity there for a public private partnership?”

Sue Lincoln

How do you start a whole new industry from the ground up, especially when that industry is medical marijuana? That’s what state Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has to figure out. His department has to come up with the rules and regulations for producing and processing the marijuana by January.

“We are responsible all the way from the seed to the delivery of the final chemical product,” Strain told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Sue Lincoln

Louisiana’s legislature approved medical marijuana for certain diseases in 1991. Twenty-three years later, a bill that would finally set up a prescription system for dispensing the drug was heard in Senate Health and Welfare Wednesday.