Two U.S companies have been finally given the green light to grow marijuana for federal research purposes by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The companies recently harvested their first batches of legal marijuana to be used by scientists for federally approved research.
For over 50 years, the University of Mississippi has enjoyed a monopoly as the only institution that was legally allowed to manufacture marijuana for research. The dominance has finally been broken by two market entrants: Groff North America Hemplex and the Biopharmaceutical Research Company (BRC).
In the last few years, the DEA has been under immense pressure to open up marijuana cultivation for research to more institutions and companies. Just recently, a top federal official stated that having marijuana under schedule 0ne limits research. Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), went further to add that researchers are discouraged from venturing into cannabis research due to the numerous regulatory limitations.
Researchers have complained about the monopoly since the cannabis produced from one source is usually not representative of what is being consumed in the market. The cannabis from the University of Mississippi has been labeled as being “chemically dissimilar” from what is available in legal cannabis dispensaries. This negatively affects the validity and reliability of the research results. In addition, researchers have had to wait for extended durations to have their orders filled up. Having more companies get authorizations from DEA will go all long way in eliminating these hurdles.
Earlier this year, the DEA issued conditional approvals to several companies that had applied to become marijuana manufacturers for research purposes. Groff North and BRC were among the applicants. The two companies received approvals to grow marijuana for “internal quality control and calibration purposes” but they are yet to receive approval for selling their products to the DEA for clinical research purposes and drug development. This is likely to happen in the near future, as the DEA has promised.
This bold step by the DEA will pave way for the production of medical-grade cannabis on an unprecedented scale. Speaking to Marijuana Moment, George Hodgin, the CEO of BRC remarked that “These steps are taking place because of the loud drumbeat of the advocates of the cannabis community over the past decades.” Having the DEA on board will accelerate cannabis research and this may influence the federal decision to legalize cannabis.
BRC harvested the first batch of cannabis in November 2021 and is already working on the second batch. Groff, on the other hand, completed harvesting their first batch a week ago.