BATON ROUGE, La. — In the State Department of Agriculture's chemical lab, experts have taken 44 days to test the first four samples of what will eventually launch the state's medical marijuana supply.
"The main thing is that suitability has to be completed. All of the information has to be turned in so that it can meet what the law says," Commissioner Mike Strain with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry said Tuesday.
Commissioner Strain says they are waiting on the final product and to establish a permanent facility. It's been a long and lengthy process.
Medical marijuana was supposed to be available in January, but it's been pushed back possibly to May. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2015. The Department of Agriculture is working alongside the state's two growers: LSU and Southern University.
Strain says there are a number of reasons for the delay. For instance, the Department has to make sure the process meets all of the State's strict requirements.
But the main reason for the delay, Commissioner Strain says, was because they could not find what they believe was the right company to test the drug.
"In late April and early May, we made the decision since we could't find any laboratories to basically get some additional equipment and also some additional training for our current laboratories we have, cause we currently do most of this type of testing," Commissioner Strain said.
One of the companies that placed a bid plans to sue the Department of Agriculture.
Reactwell LLC, a New Orleans based company, wants to put a stop to the state's testing and do it themselves.
The Department of Agriculture tells Eyewitness News they found out about the lawsuit today, but they have not received a petition yet.
Commissioner Strain says the three companies did not meet the State's guidelines.
"The minimum qualifications were at least five years of experience. They had to fill out certain things within the bid package. As you know with a State bid it's very specific," Commissioner Strain said.
But for those who've waited long enough, like mother Katelyn Castlebrry, she just wants relief for her son who has severe autism. She believes medical marijuana would save him and feels her son Ramsey has waited long enough.
"People's quality of life is suffering and lacking as we wait for this medicine to become available," Castleberry said.
Commissioner Mike Strain says even though the tentative date for public distribution is estimated for May, that's still uncertain.
"There is no permanent drug. there is no drug available to be tested. And so, when you're talking and looking at these timelines, remember, it's all new to everyone. And every timeline is a guesstimate." Commissioner Strain said.