Obtaining permission from the United States government to research the potential health benefits of marijuana has proven to be a daunting task throughout the years. Even in states where weed is now legal, the DEA’s Schedule I classification of the herb prevents many universities from engaging in activities in the realm of cannabis cultivation and experimentation. However, officials in Colorado have taken the first step towards making a change in the preventative nature of this policy by asking Uncle Sam’s permission to grow weed on college campuses.
According to a report from The Denver Post, the state attorney general’s office recently submitted a proposal to heads of federal health and education offices requesting permission for institutions of higher education to purchase and grow marijuana from “non-federal government sources” for the purpose of placing a finger on the pulse of high science.
“Current research is riddled with bias or insufficiencies and often conflict with one another,” wrote Deputy Attorney General David Blake in the proposal. “It is critical that we be allowed to fill the void of scientific research, and this may only be done with your assistance and cooperation.”
Unfortunately, while the state’s request for reefer rights is, above all, necessary in an effort to begin hashing out the scientific discrepancies surrounding marijuana, the likelihood of the government granting this permission is not good. Regardless of the legality of weed in Colorado, there are strict guidelines that researchers must adhere to before the government clears them to study marijuana—not to mention Uncle Sam prefers this approved research to employ the use of pot grown on his farm at the University of Mississippi.
While Colorado does not have any immediate issue with colleges and universities researching marijuana, a campus doing so without federal authorization could result in a furious shakedown, resulting in the loss of governmental funding and the imprisonment of institutional leaders. The U.S. Justice Department announced in early 2014 that it would not pursue or prosecute people conducting business in legal cannabis markets as long as they operated responsibly, but the agency is not about to turn a blind eye to non-sanctioned research.
Yet Colorado’s attorney general does not want to jump through the hoops the feds insist on before green-lighting marijuana research—a process that has taken some more than three years. In addition, the state, which recently approved $8.4 million in grants for cannabis research, is not interested in using government-grown marijuana for their studies, according to the attorney general’s proposal, especially when it has easy access to quality pot being cultivated in Colorado.
“We need the support of our federal partners to overcome the inertia that continues to complicate state efforts in this area,” concluded Blake.