Louisiana’s largest medical marijuana producer is expanding its growing operation to Ruston, where LSU AgCenter partner Good Day Farm is putting a 225,000-square-foot warehouse into production.
Good Day Farm President John Davis said Louisiana Department of Agriculture regulators are inspecting the facility Tuesday.
Davis said he expects the company to begin moving plants from Baton Rouge into the warehouse this month after the facility gets the green light from the regulators.
“It’s an exciting expansion, especially because it will create new jobs and place what has been an empty building back into commerce,” Davis said.
Davis said Good Day Farm is positioning itself to meet a growing demand for the medicine, which will expand once a new law allowing the state’s nine cannabis pharmacies to sell the more affordable smokable form beginning in January.
Until now Louisiana’s only two legal growers — LSU AgCenter, Southern AgCenter and their private partners — could provide the medicine in processed form like tinctures and edible gummies, which are more expensive.
“This gives us the ability to expand as the need grows,” Davis said.
Mayor Ronny Walker said the expansion into the Ruston Industrial Park enables his city to participate in the growing legal cannabis industry. The new facility will be the first above Interstate 10.
Expansion to Ruston will create jobs
“This project will eventually create hundreds of jobs and it returns a building to the tax rolls at an ever greater rate than before after Good Day Farm’s investment,” Walker said.
Good Day Farm will grow, harvest and process medical marijuana at the Ruston plant.
Davis said the company will initially create 50 new jobs at the facility with that number growing to as many as 250 once the market matures.
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Louisiana House Agriculture Chairman Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, said Good Day Farm is building out “a state-of-the-art growing facility that expands this growing industry’s economic impact to northern Louisiana.”
Davis said Good Day Farm’s Baton Rouge growing facility will remain in operation for now, but it will eventually be consolidated into the Ruston operation. The LSU AgCenter’s marijuana research wing, where scientists create high-yielding varietals resistant to disease and insects, will remain in Baton Rouge.
He said the Ruston facility is configurated for three phases of expansion that would eventually allow it to produce 5,700 pounds of product per month, which would exceed projected statewide demand of 4,700 pounds per month in 2024.
Davis’s company believes a mature market will reach about 2% of Louisiana’s population per month, or about 93,000 patients, in 2024. Current mature markets in Arkansas and Missouri are 2.59% and 2.25%, respectively.
Louisiana’s current market is about 0.29% of the population, or about 12,500 patients per month.
“There should be no question that current and future demand can be covered by the LSU AgCenter and Southern AgCenter,” Davis said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.