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A company in New Mexico has embarked on a project to develop an automated and autonomous research facility that is dedicated to cannabis research. The facility that is currently under construction just outside of Albuquerque is estimated to cost the upwards of 300 million dollars. It is the brainchild of Bright Green Corporation, a company that is leveraging technology in automation to drive research and the development of pharmaceutical grade plants such as medicinal cannabis.
Bright Green Corporation has gotten approval and a memorandum of agreement from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and is therefore going full steam with this colossal facility. The project has received the go ahead and full support from the Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The aim is to improve the quality and consistency of medicinal cannabis, making it pharmaceutical grade. It will also eliminate inconsistencies and improve the efficiency and accuracy of cannabis research. Upon successful completion, this is likely to dramatically improve cannabis science in the US and beyond.
Bright Green Bridging the Gap in Cannabis Science
The lack of federally approved cannabis raw material is a great impediment to cannabis research. For many years, cannabis researchers have had to rely on raw materials from a single source; the University of Mississippi. Since 1968, the university has managed to secure contracts as the sole supplier of cannabis for research purposes. This has not be an efficient process and researchers have raised a number of concerns.
The cannabis produced by the University of Mississippi is usually of lower potency than what is available in the market. This means that the raw material used by researchers is usually not representative of what consumers are exposed to in the live market. The supply has also failed to meet the demand for cannabis raw materials. As more states move to legalize medicinal cannabis the demand will get even higher, further compounding the problem.
The DEA has been making efforts to approve additional facilities to grow marijuana as a raw material for medical research. Uttam Dhillon, the Acting Administrator of the DEA committed in a statement to support additional research into marijuana and its components by registering additional marijuana growers. This will enable researchers to have access to a wider variety of cannabis as raw materials for research.
Bright Green Greenlighted to Grow Marijuana for Research
Bright Green Corporation has secured DEA approval to grow marijuana for research in New Mexico. The company signed a memorandum of agreement with the DEA in May 2021 and is currently in the process of developing the 300 million dollar cannabis research facility.
The CEO of Bright Green Ed Robinson recently expressed the vision of the company as this: “to improve the quality of life across a broad demographic group through the opportunities presented by medicinal applications of plant-based therapies, including cannabis-derived products.”
Fully Automated Cannabis Research Facility
Bright Green is constructing a state-of-the-art cultivation facility that is fully automated 70 miles from Albuquerque. The high-tech greenhouse project starts off at 20 acres but there are plans to expand it to 150 acres in the coming years. The sheer size of this facility necessitates automation in every inch of the design to keep it running. Rolling benches cover the floor space to move the plants through the different stages of their growth cycle. The tech also includes a bio tracking system to track every single plant with barcodes. While this makes it possible to account for each plant, it also facilitates compliance reporting. Top-notch carbon dioxide extraction equipment decked with the latest technology is also a part of the arsenal.
Adherence to Growing by Plant Empowerment (GPE) Principles
The Bright Green facility is committed to operating under GPE principles to promote higher energy efficiency. A GPE facility controls the balance of climatic factors, airflow, water and CO2 supply, and other resources within the greenhouse. This requires massive capital investment in infrastructure in the initial stage of the setup.
The Future of Cannabis Research
Automation is the future of cannabis research and Bright Green is a forerunner in this. In the past, cannabis researchers have struggled to find potent cannabis to be used in research. They have also struggled to find raw material on time from the sole authorized supplier who has been the University of Mississippi. As more states move to legalize cannabis, the demand for raw materials is bound to get higher. Researchers will be on the lookout not just for cannabis but well-crafted cultivars that are cultivated to the highest of standards for pharmaceutical use. With federal approval to grow marijuana for research, Bright Green is set to bridge the gap and propel the industry to the next level.