US touts bigger medical cannabis research crop while applications linger

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The U.S. government is growing the largest marijuana research crop in five years but still hasn’t acted on applications that could help shed light on the potential benefits of medical cannabis.

The research, in turn, could be critical to opening up additional industry opportunities.

Data from research could also shape public policy and bolster federal reform efforts.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse said it plans to grow 2,000 kilograms of marijuana (4,409 pounds) this year at the University of Mississippi, which holds the sole federal contract for producing marijuana.

The crop will be divided between high-THC and high-CBD varieties with “recent interest (in CBD) as a potential medicine for a number of medical conditions,” the NIDA noted.

Researchers have been asking for others besides the University of Mississippi to be granted federal authorization to grow research cannabis.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) created an application process for growers but dragged its heels on acting on more than two dozen applications.

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers renewed their push in May to expedite the process but apparently to little or no avail.

In June, the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to order the DEA to process the applications.

“We are still working through the process and those applications remain under review,” DEA spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff wrote in an email to the Associated Press. She declined to comment on the litigation.

Separately, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a federal bill to try to bolster marijuana and CBD research.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily