Lousy Federal Weed Production Holds Back Research

How can scientists study marijuana when their research weed is lousy?

It doesn’t have to be this way.

“We can’t get very far with the Mississippi weed. That’s just the reality,” said Nicholas Lovrich, professor emeritus at Washington State University and chair of its Cannabis Committee on Research and Outreach.

Lovrich is referring University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s “cannabis garden,” the only federally approved pot-growing facility in the country.

And even with all the resources that implies, they still haven’t figured out how to grow weed with enough potency and diversity needed by researchers.

The federal government, despite half the country believing in the benefits of medical marijuana, is still placing bureaucratic obstacles in the way of researchers, who, if found in violation of them, risk losing their funding.

Bottom line: Weed grown under the auspices of the federal government does not compare to what dispensaries are selling and is holding scholars back.

Let’s face it, no one uses lousy weed when good stuff is available, so why should researchers have to?

The DEA ruled last August that research institutions could grow their own pot, but it will take time.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss is still the only game in town. So why haven’t they honed their cultivation skills by now? Probably for that very reason—no competition.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which manages the Mississippi program, has said weaker weed hampers only public-health research, such as impaired driving studies but not medical research.

However, researchers beg to differ.

“The cannabis strain that Mississippi has been providing is so low in THC” — the chemical compound in marijuana that produces a high — that “it’s not really possible to do actual use-patterns analysis with,” Lovrich said to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Mahmoud A. ElSohly, a professor of pharmaceutics who has overseen the project for over 30 years, dismisses the notion that lack of variety is holding back research.

“We can’t try to match everything that everybody has out there,” he said. “This is not a candy store.”

When the government started a new bidding competition for the NIDA contract in 2015, it proceeded to award the exclusive deal to Mississippi yet again!

After being given an extension on its $68-million contract, the hope was that Mississippi would widen the variety of its strains. But, ElSohly seems to think its current “diversity” is sufficient.

“There’s a lot of noise out there. There’s a lot of talk,” ElSohly has said. “But it really has absolutely no basis.”

Today’s word: Monopoly.

With only one supplier and no competition, complacency inevitably sets in, along with denial that there’s a problem.

Results? Continued poor quality weed production for medical marijuana research.

It’s not rocket science, Ole Miss. Grow some decent weed, please.

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