Cannabis companies want to stimulate federal research efforts


Applications to permit cannabis cultivation for research purposes in the United States has been seriously delayed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Agency began welcoming applicants in 2016, but has failed to push things forward. 

Over a two-year period that stretched until 2018, more than 30 different entities applied in the hopes of becoming legally-registered producers of research-grade cannabis in the U.S. Included on the list of applicants is well-known Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth, which was North America’s first ever publicly-traded cannabis producer to be federally regulated and licensed.

According to the DEA’s senior policy advisor Matthew Strait, the Administration has confirmed that draft regulation for research-grade cannabis is “in place”. Strait made this announcement during Congress’ first cannabis hearing of 2020. He says that the rules have already been submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. 

One farm has been licensed to produce research-grade cannabis in the U.S.

At the current time, research-grade cannabis in the U.S. is not available in abundance. Just one farm is actively producing the plant for scientific research purposes the University of Mississippi. The university has been lucky enough to bag the only production license awarded by the U.S. government so far.

A tedious wait in the reviewing of applications has stirred up a mixed bag of emotions among applicants. One applicant even filed a lawsuit; initiated by a cannabis researcher at the Scottsdale Research Institute in mid-2019. Fortunately, things could be changing very soon and it seems that some of the planet’s most successful cannabis companies are willing to join mainstream research institutions in researching the plant’s therapeutic potential.

“Before making decisions on these pending applications, DEA intends to propose new regulations that will govern the [cannabis] growers program for scientific and medical research,” said the Agency back in August 2019; in response to the lawsuit.

Major manufacturers are waiting for licenses to grow research-grade cannabis in the U.S.

Featured on the list of companies that have applied to cultivate cannabis in the U.S. for the sole purpose of research include a specialty pharmaceutical company with locations spread across the U.S. called Columbia Care, as well as PharmaCann, which is acknowledged as one of the largest private cannabis companies in the U.S. 

Canopy’s application with the DEA was submitted in February 2017 through the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary 7218737 Delaware Inc. In May 2019, Canopy announced that it had purchased Europe’s largest cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals company. Interestingly, a German research organization called ‘The Fraunhofer Society’ also applied for a license to grow research-grade cannabis in the U.S. 

In addition to the aforementioned cannabis companies, global research and development organization Battelle has also applied for a license to grow research-grade weed.

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