The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the sole supplier of legal, “research-grade” cannabis to scientists in the U.S. has long been receiving complaints about the quality of the weed they provide.
The contract to grow cannabis for the federal government is held by the University of Mississippi, which is now looking into stepping up its game and has NIDA on the hunt for better strains.
“I don’t know what dispensaries have, I wish I did,” marijuana researcher Mahmoud ElSohly told Nature.
With countless publications about cannabis under his belt, ElSohly might be the top pot researcher in the U.S. and has been growing weed at Ole Miss for decades. Since federal raids on dispensaries and grow-ops in medical states have slowed to a halt, ElSohly has lost access to their weed and has no idea what dispensaries are working with anymore.
However, the university has just acquired two new strains: a high-CBD, low-THC strain and a strain with equal amounts of THC and CBD. No information about potency has been released yet. Typically, the University of Mississippi has access to old land-race and hemp strains that aren’t very potent, generally 12 percent THC. NIDA increased their output in 2014 from 18 to 600 kilograms.
Researchers have also complained that NIDA’s product is too expensive at $1,525 a kilo. Scientists in Canada, Israel and Britain get better deals from their providers.
The new senate bill that has medical marijuana legalization in play could allow for three new research cannabis providers. With their monopoly at stake, now is a good time for the University of Mississippi to step up its game; we’ll soon see how their new strains stack up.