The DEA is looking for candidates to grow marijuana for research — but will it find any takers?

Wanted: Someone to grow marijuana for the federal government? . Benefits: A contract worth millions and the possibility of allowing medical research. Requirements :. Ability to meet the costs and regulations that come with becoming an illegal drug for the federal government

For more than four decades, the University of Mississippi has an exclusive license with the government to cultivate marijuana enacted federal research . But this month , the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that grant permission to other producers -. An effort, he said, to expand the supply and variety of marijuana available for research

This change has established a gold rush to grow green? Not quite.

STAT contacted nearly a dozen agricultural schools, including those with industrial hemp programs to measure their eagerness to grow marijuana for the government.

Not interested, said Cornell University, the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech. Ditto, said Michigan State University, the University of Vermont, and Western Kentucky University.

There are no plans, said University of California, Davis, and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Same with the Colorado State University, Oregon State University and Purdue University.

“We are really boring that way,” Janna Beckerman, plant pathologist investigating hemp Purdue, wrote in an email.

Some stakeholders can keep their plans secret. And other possible candidates may be trying to get a better idea of ​​what the DEA wants. However, any reluctance could be due to something more than being boring.

To register with the agency, applicants must demonstrate that they will have security measures to protect marijuana and be willing to comply with a number of other requirements. And depending on the size of the operation, potential producers likely have to make significant investments for their creation and operation.

Bob Morgan, a lawyer in Great Shelist who previously ran the medical marijuana program of Illinois, said the facilities in states that have strict regulations on medical marijuana growers are probably looking at spending millions dollars for the construction alone.

“I think everyone is thinking only how to address this,” said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego. “What are you going to take to actually get one of these licenses DEA?”

Grant said he would consider speaking with other universities and agencies in California to see if it was worth the effort to get a growing operation in the state, but beyond that I had not heard of groups who intend to apply.

A researcher at Lyle Craker operation is, who studies medicinal plants at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has tried in the past to obtain approval to grow marijuana. He did not respond to an email requesting comment, but a spokesman for a group called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – which sponsors related research -. He said he is supporting Craker’s efforts to obtain a license, as it has done in the past

Other possible candidates include independent producers operating in states where medical and recreational marijuana is legal. Some growers have experience in the operation of a large-scale marijuana – with practices and state of the art security measures and experience dealing with state regulators -. That, in theory, could appeal to federal authorities

But the fact is that their existence violates federal law.

in note announcing the policy change, acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg said it would consider whether the applicants have “engaged in illegal activities related to controlled substances … regardless of whether such activity is permissible under state law. “While not disqualify current, expert growers in policies and people in the industry say that the DEA will not give the maximum value on them.

“It became very clear that if you have been in violation of [Controlled Substances Act], which will be weighted heavily against him,” said Rachel Gillette, a lawyer in Greenspoon Marder in Colorado representing the companies marijuana.

That can not stop people from trying, however.

Charlie Bachtell is the CEO and founder of Cresco Labs, growing medical marijuana at three sites in Illinois. Bachtell said it is considering applying to the DEA because he wants to support research might show that marijuana has medical benefits.

“The future of this industry certainly begins with research,” Bachtell said. “The opportunity to help advance the acceptance, elevation and professionalism of the medical cannabis industry actually begins with the investigation.”

The change in the policy of the DEA also opened the door to a new group of candidates: drugmakers. While marijuana is channeled Mississippi academic research, Rosenberg wrote that marijuana can now be cultivated “for strictly commercial efforts … aimed at developing drug products.”

GW Pharmaceuticals, a company developing a drug for epilepsy a component of marijuana called cannabidiol , said he has not made a decision on a growing area in the United States , but he remained vague enough to suggest a possible interest. The company manufactures the drug, Epidiolex, in the UK, where it is based.

“We are exploring additional facilities which grow in locations around the world,” the company said in a statement.

application process DEA is open, but the agency has not set a deadline to select growers. The agency has indicated that it wants enough marijuana produced so that research demands are met, but no more than that.

“It could be that within two years, we still have only one record,” said Alex Kreit, an expert on marijuana law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Even if growers get licenses, they will face a dilemma of the chicken and the egg: If they get special approval to grow marijuana, where do they get the supplies they need to start it

they could get marijuana from the University? Mississippi, but that would defeat the purpose of trying to broaden the genetic variety of plants available. Or they could obtain seeds and plants from another country, such as Canada and Israel, with appropriate permissions.

An existing grower could also give up some marijuana to law enforcement, which could give it to a newly registered grower.

Meanwhile, a spokesman in an email that the DEA “would require manufacturers to get their seeds from a legitimate source, and the DEA could assist new manufacturers in this regard . ”

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