The federal government plans to give marijuana research a big boost this year by growing two tons of cannabis for scientific study.
For years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have pledged to increase the amount of cannabis grown for research purposes. Now they're finally putting those words into action. Last week, NIDA announced plans to grow two tons (4,000 lbs.) of research-grade cannabis this year in support of federally approved cannabis studies. That's the most cannabis they've grown in the past five years.
While the increase in cannabis supply is a win for cannabis researchers, there is one disappointing caveat to this news. All of the government-approved marijuana will be sourced from a single cultivation site: the University of Mississippi, which has long been criticized for producing sub-par crops that aren't reflective of what consumers are actually using.
For 50 years, the University of Mississippi has been the only federally approved cannabis producer in America. Over that time, cannabis genetics has evolved by leaps and bounds. The terpene profiles of strains have become more complex than ever, and the potency of buds has increased substantially as producers have found ways to enhance the THC content of their plants. Yet Ole Miss continues to grow crops that are more similar to the weed consumed in the 60s and 70s than what cannabis consumers are smoking, vaping and eating today.
The DEA has promised to address that problem by expanding the number of cannabis cultivation sites, but the administration has yet to make good on that pledge. As a result, researchers have begun taking the feds to task over their failure to modernize marijuana research.
The Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona, for example, has asked an appeals court in Washington, DC to force the DEA to process more than two dozen cultivation applications that have languished in bureaucratic limbo for years. So there's no shortage of businesses willing to begin growing more research-grade cannabis. The problem is that the DEA seems unwilling to give scientists the tools they need to conduct better cannabis research.
But that could change in the near future. If the court sides with the Scottsdale Research Institute, the DEA would be forced to expand the number of licensed growers in America.
h/t: Ars Technica