The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) granted $19,942,918 to 16 academic institutions with plans to research cannabis on April 26. The grants will be dedicated to research initiatives exploring the effectiveness of cannabis on “mental health of young people, novel cannabinoids like Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC, and a first-of-its kind study of California’s legacy cannabis genetics, intended to preserve the history, value, and diversity of the communities that steward them,” a press release stated.
According to DCC chief deputy director Rasha Salama, the goal is to have these particular initiatives lead the way in cannabis studies. “It is the Department’s aspiration that these studies will advance the body of scientific research, further our understanding of cannabis, and aid to the continued development and refinement of the legal framework,” said Salama. “These studies will provide valuable insights on topics of interest to California’s consumers, businesses, and policy makers and the Department looks forward to sharing them once they are completed.”
Grants were awarded to institutions in six categories, including cannabis potency, medicinal use of cannabis, health of the cannabis industry, monopolies and unfair competition, California legacy genetics and genetic sequencing, and “other” topics. A total of 98 proposals were considered, and 16 were chosen from that pool based on “strong scientific methodology, their ability to provide useful information for policymaking, their advancement of public understanding of cannabis, and their potential to generate foundational research that will support exponential future knowledge.”
The institution that received the highest grant amount of funds was Cal Poly Humboldt with $2,699,178, which will be sued to tackle the topic of “Legacy Cannabis Genetics: People and Their Plants, a Community-Driven Study.”
According to a press release, a nonprofit organization called Origins Council and the Cannabis Equity Policy Council is partnering with the Cal Poly Humboldt to work on the initiative. “This research seeks to empower and protect California’s legacy cultivation communities who have overcome great adversity to innovate and steward one of the most important collections of cannabis genetic resources in the world,” stated Origins Council executive director Genine Coleman.
Additionally, the University of California, Irvine and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) received $2 million each, and both will be conducting cannabis potency studies.
UCLA-based studies secured six grants, and University of California, Berkeley (UCB) received grants for three. Other institutions included University of California, San Francisco, University of California, Davis, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Cal Poly Humboldt.
One particular collaboration between UC Irvine and UCLA will conduct the “first double-blind, placebo-controlled, federally compliant, drug-administration study evaluating the intoxicating effects of inhaled cannabis plant compared to inhaled concentrates. It is expected [to] establish a clinically significant threshold to define high and low THC concentrations.”
In February, the DCC also announced a new grant program offering $20 million to help support and expand the state’s cannabis industry. “Expanding access to California’s retail cannabis market is an important step towards protecting consumer safety and supporting a balanced market,” said DCC director Nicole Elliott. “The retail access grant program ultimately seeks to encourage legal retail operations in areas where existing consumers do not have convenient access to regulated cannabis.” The grant application window ends on April 28, and $10 million of the grant funds will be awarded by June 20. After that, an additional $10 million will be “available to previous awardees as they issue licenses.”
The DCC released a statement in early March regarding the enforcement statistics from the past two years. According to the agency’s report, the DCC led 61 search warrant operations in 2021, but conducted 155 in 2022. In 2021, the DCC seized more than 41,726 pounds of cannabis (approximately $77,772,936 in value), but that number increased to 144,254 pounds in 2022 (estimated to be more than $243,017,836 in value).