The United States government has been cultivating cannabis to distribute to medical patients since 1976. This started when a patient named Robert Randall took the federal government to court and won his case, which resulted in the federal government providing him medical cannabis.
A follow-up lawsuit by Mr. Randall, which was settled out of court in 1978, established the legal basis for what is now known as the ‘Compassionate Investigational New Drug program’ which is still in operation today.
Cannabis is grown at the University of Mississippi and distributed to federal medical cannabis patients. The program stopped accepting patients in 1992, and there are currently four remaining participants in the program.
The same cannabis that is distributed to the federal patients is also the cannabis that is provided by the federal government to researchers. The federal government holds the monopoly on providing cannabis for federally recognized research purposes.
For a number of reasons the federal government should surrender its monopoly on cannabis cultivated for research purposes, and instead open up production to more qualified entities.
Federal cannabis is borderline useless for research purposes, which considering the monopoly on production and distribution, it is dramatically hindering the process of unlocking the potentially life saving secrets inside of the cannabis plant.
Below are three reasons why the federal government should step aside and let other public and private entities that are better equipped to handle the task take over. If you agree please share.
#1) Not as much variety
People who have gone into a reputable dispensary know that there is a seemingly never ending amount of cannabis strains out there.
According to SeedFinder.eu, there are at least 11,347 cannabis varities as of July 2017. The U.S. government, however, offers a selection of 12.
Their catalog of ‘marijuana plant material’ from March 2016 lists 12 types of cannabis that can be ordered in bulk, with one of them being ‘placebo marijuana’ that has 0% THC and 0% CBD.
The catalog does not list strain names, nor does it list any breakdown of any genetic information for the strain. These are important things to know for patients.
#2) Significantly lower concentrations of THC
As previously mentioned, one of the 12 available types of cannabis from the United States government has no noticeable traces of THC or CBD.
Of the remaining eleven types of cannabis, 7 of them have THC concentrations of less than five percent. Only one type has a THC concentration of ‘over ten percent’ but an approximate amount is not listed.
Any research with these government-grown cannabis varities is going to only provide insight to lower potency strains which are neither preferred by many consumers nor indicative of what’s available on the legal market.
Cannabis in dispensaries regularly tests over 20 percent in THC concentration, with some strains even eclipsing the 30 percent mark.
#3) Mold and other contaminants
Earlier this year media outlets published a number of articles describing how researchers who obtained cannabis from the federal government were complaining about how contaminated it was with mold and mildew.
Pictures included in the articles were so awful that the cannabis failed to resemble the flower that most people think of when they envision cannabis.
Rather than being beautiful flower buds the cannabis looked like crushed oregano. But it’s not how it looked that was the problem – the real problem was the contamination.
Recent tragedies involving patients who had consumed cannabis tainted with mold are a sad reminder of how important it is to ensure cannabis is safe and clean.
No one should be pushing tainted cannabis, especially our own federal government, under the guise of research no less.
A recent study took a look at the federal government’s cannabis that it provides for research purposes. The study concluded the following:
Our results demonstrate that the federally-produced Cannabis has significantly less variety and lower concentrations of cannabinoids than are observed in state-legal U.S. dispensaries. Most dramatically, NIDA’s varieties contain only 27% of the THC levels and as much as 11–23 times the Cannabinol (CBN) content compared to what is available in the state-legal markets. Research restricted to using the current range of federally-produced Cannabis thus may yield limited insights into the chemical, biological and pharmacological properties, and medical potential of material that is available in the state markets.
The federal government needs to release its iron grip on cannabis production and distribution for medical purposes and research.
Public and private entities can clearly do a superior job at producing research grade cannabis that is much more representative of what consumers are actually seeing in the marketplace.
If change does not occur, research will always be hindered and as a result always be limited. Contact your federal officials and urge them to reform cannabis laws so that research can flourish and be used to benefit humankind.