The United States government’s official position is that cannabis has no medical value. That is reflected by the cannabis plant’s Schedule I status.
Yet that same federal government cultivates cannabis for medical purposes and has for decades at the University of Mississippi.
It’s one of the most frustrating and hypocritical components of federal cannabis policy.
The cannabis that is cultivated as part of a decades-old program at the University of Mississippi is used for federally-approved medical cannabis research and is distributed to a very limited number of federal medical cannabis patients.
All hypocrisy aside, federal cannabis research could be a worthwhile thing if it helps society via increased knowledge about the cannabis plant.
However, in order for that to prove to be the case, the cannabis that is used for federal research purposes has to be representative of what people are actually consuming.
Federal Lawmakers Demand a Different Approach to Cannabis Research
Earlier this month Congressman Harley Rouda, Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Cory Gardner, Senator Kamala Harris, and 17 other members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Attorney General William Barr regarding cannabis research.
In the letter, the bipartisan group of federal lawmakers urged the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ‘amend current policies to improve research on cannabis.’
Specifically, the lawmakers requested that the DEA ‘amend its policies to allow for the procurement of cannabis-derived products from state-authorized dispensaries by federally licensed researchers.’
“Our nation’s cannabis research laws are archaic. Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis consumption – we must ensure our federal agencies and other licensed institutions can comprehensively study the benefits and risks of cannabis products. I thank Senator Schatz, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for joining me to make this common-sense request. It’s time to bring our drug research policies into the 21st century,” stated Congressman Harley Rouda in a press release.
Cannabis research is only as good as the cannabis being used as part of the research.
How Does Federally Cultivated Cannabis Compare to Dispensary Cannabis?
According to the University of Mississippi’s own webpage dedicated to its cannabis research program, below is the only listed difference between federal cannabis and dispensary cannabis:
“Marijuana produced at UM is manicured to a uniform particle size because it is required to be standardized in various research protocols.”
That explanation glosses over two very important differences between regulated cannabis at dispensaries in a growing number of states and federally cultivated cannabis.
For starters, potency levels between federal cannabis and dispensary cannabis can vary widely, with federal cannabis typically testing at a significantly lower THC level compared to dispensary cannabis.
Secondly, the overall quality of the federally cultivated cannabis is terrible, as reported by a federal researcher who claimed that the cannabis she received was moldy and didn’t resemble cannabis at all.
Pictures of the cannabis that were offered to the media by the researcher more closely resembled old powdery oregano than it did cannabis that is on sale at regulated dispensaries.
If the cannabis that is used for federal studies is as useless as is being reported, then the results of the studies are also ultimately useless as well.
It’s Time for a New Approach
In a political climate that is more polarized than ever before in the U.S., in which the major parties cannot seem to agree on anything, they appear to be in agreement that dispensary cannabis should be used for research purposes.
Unlike decades past, when cannabis was hard to find and varied widely in quality and potency, regulated cannabis is available all over the country.
It makes no sense for the DEA to cling to a cannabis research model that gives a cultivation monopoly to a university who produces cannabis that doesn’t resemble what consumers actually use.
That is especially true when considering the fact that states like Oregon literally have an abundance of regulated cannabis that is sitting on shelves with nowhere to go.
Cannabis consumers, and for that matter non-cannabis consumers, deserve a more reasonable, useful approach to cannabis research that actually benefits society via science-driven public policies.
If you care about the integrity of cannabis research, which you absolutely should, contact your members of Congress today and urge them to add their names to the list of lawmakers demanding a more sensible approach to cannabis research.