DEA Announces Steps Necessary To Improve Access To Marijuana Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that it is moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States. The DEA is providing notice of pending applications from entities applying to be registered to manufacture marijuana for researchers. DEA anticipates that registering additional qualified marijuana growers will increase the variety of marijuana available for these purposes.

Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019. Similarly, in the last two years, DEA has more than doubled the production quota for marijuana each year based on increased usage projections for federally approved research projects.

“I am pleased that DEA is moving forward with its review of applications for those who seek to grow marijuana legally to support research,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services and across the Administration to improve research opportunities wherever we can.”

“DEA is making progress in the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.  “We support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”

This notice also announces that, as the result of a recent amendment to federal law, certain forms of cannabis no longer require DEA registration to grow or manufacture. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, changed the definition of marijuana to exclude “hemp”—plant material that contains 0.3 percent or less delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis. Accordingly, hemp, including hemp plants and cannabidiol (CBD) preparations at or below the 0.3 percent delta-9 THC threshold, is not a controlled substance, and a DEA registration is not required to grow or research it.

Before making decisions on these pending applications, DEA intends to propose new regulations that will govern the marijuana growers program for scientific and medical research. The new rules will help ensure DEA can evaluate the applications under the applicable legal standard and conform the program to relevant laws. To ensure transparency and public participation, this process will provide applicants and the general public with an opportunity to comment on the regulations that should govern the program of growing marijuana for scientific and medical research.

The Notice of Application is available here:

Front Range Biosciences Partners With University of California, Davis For Cannabis Genomics Research

Agricultural biotech company collaborates with world’s leading agriculture school for research

CALIFORNIA: Front Range Biosciences, a leading agricultural biotech company, has launched a genomics research initiative with the University of California, Davis, to advance understanding of cannabis for medical and nutraceutical uses.  The research team consists of Professor Dario Cantu in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, research scientists in the Cantu lab, and members of the FRB team.

“We have successfully applied cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies and computational approaches to study challenging genomes of diverse crops and associated microorganisms. We are now excited to have the opportunity to study the genome of hemp. Decoding its genome will allow us to gain new insight into the genetic bases of complex pathways of secondary metabolism in plants,” said Dr. Cantu.

“UC Davis is renowned as the leading agriculture university in the world and we are excited to work with Dr. Cantu’s team to improve this crop to reduce pesticide residues and excessive application of fertilizers, in preparation for production targeting medically beneficial compounds,” said Dr. Jonathan Vaught, CEO of FRB.

During the project, FRB will isolate DNA from hemp cultivars that are low in THC and solely for industrial uses. The company will send these DNA samples to UC Davis for Next-Generation Sequencing and bioinformatic analysis to create a better genome reference for cannabis.

To fund the project, FRB pledged a gift, to be fulfilled over a one-year period, to The Regents of University of California to support UC Davis’ development and annotation of the cannabis genome. FRB gift will cover costs related to supplies, DNA and RNA sequencing, assembly and annotation of the cannabis genome.

Deadline Extension for Marijuana Research License Scientific Reviewer

WASHINGTON: The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board has extended the deadline for the Scientific Reviewer necessary for the marijuana research licenseThe solicitation will now close Feb. 13, 2017.  To register and download the solicitation details you will need to be registered on the Washington Electronic Business Solutions (WEBS) solicitation and bid system. You may access the registration page here.  

 

Bid Code

K864

Scientific Reviewer

 

Community Codes

Once registered, WEBS requires that potential vendors register with commodity codes that describe their services or goods. The community codes associated with this solicitation are: 918-43, 918062, 961-74, 962-58, 269 series, 115 series, 271 series, 495 series and 675 series.

 

Pot Research Stalled Even As Legalization Gains Momentum

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Speaking by phone, Anthony Fabrizio was on a roll about his career in cannabis research when he suddenly fell silent. You could hear the San Francisco–based research director stammering, then grunting. Silence again.

Fabrizio returned to the conversation more than 10 seconds later. He chose his next words gingerly, like someone trying to find a light switch in a dark room, placing one hand in front of the other.

“I … just had a seizure,” he said. The research director for Terra Tech Corp., a public company based in Irvine, California, suffers absence seizures (sometimes called petit mal seizures) due to epilepsy. He credits smoking marijuana with reducing the number of seizures from about 20 a week to one every few months. Fabrizio, 27, a biochemist, has since become an evangelist for medical marijuana, which is legally available in 23 states and the nation’s capital, with legislation underway in other states.

Despite the growing momentum for pot legalization, marijuana remains one of the most difficult substances to study in the United States.

San Diego Scientist Clears Haze On Medical Marijuana

CALIFORNIA:

When voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical pot. There was only one problem. Scientists still hadn’t firmly established marijuana’s effectiveness as medicine.

Some state legislators wanted to change that. They approached UC San Diego psychiatrist Igor Grant.

“My recommendation was, look, establish a center to study this,” said Grant, who’d previously looked into whether moderate marijuana use causes long-term brain damage (conclusion: it doesn’t).

“It’ll cost you some money but these studies have not been done before,” he told the legislators.

Soon, Grant found himself in charge of the new state-funded Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

 

Colorado Publishes Review Of Marijuana Health Research

COLORADO:  Colorado released a sweeping report Monday about marijuana and health — everything from pot’s effect on drivers, asthma, cancer rates and birth defects.

The 188-page report doesn’t include new research on marijuana. Instead, it’s a review of what its authors call limited existing studies.

The report looks at studies showing that risk of a motor vehicle crash doubles among drivers with recent marijuana use, and that heavy use of marijuana is associated with impaired memory.

Colorado Seeks Permission To Grow Pot At State Universities

COLORADO:  After years of trying to stamp out marijuana use on college campuses, Colorado officials are now asking the federal government to allow its state universities to grow their own pot.

The reason, they say, is that the legalization of the drug here has raised questions about its health effects, questions that can only be answered by studying large amounts and different strains of marijuana.

But researchers face bureaucratic hurdles in scoring pot from the one federally approved marijuana farm, a 12-acre facility at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research.

In a letter to federal regulators last month, Colorado Deputy Atty. Gen. David Blake said research into the “medicinal value or detriment of marijuana, particularly those strains not grown and made available by the federal government, have become important to the national debate over marijuana legalization.”

Study Looks At Marijuana’s Impact On Brain

INDIANA:  Though marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the country, little is definitively known about its impact on the brain.

A study taking place at Indiana University is designed to help change that.

Clinical psychologist Brian O’Donnell and colleague Sharlene Newman are recruiting current and former marijuana users to participate in a study in which their brains will be analyzed for changes in structure and function.

“From animal studies, there’s reason to believe it (marijuana use) will affect parts of the brain and also the connections between them, and some of our preliminary studies suggest that is the case,” said O’Donnell, a professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences.

The study — funded by a $275,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health — is taking place as marijuana gains acceptance in some parts of the country. Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in Colorado, Washington state, Alaska and Oregon, and many states now have medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

Outtakes From Marijuana Research

WASHINGTON:  I wanted to pass along a few interesting notes that did not make it into my Page 1 story last week about the marijuana supply ramping up. Like it or not, marijuana is now a cash crop in Washington and that means it will fall into my agricultural coverage from time to time.

Greta Carter, owner of the Life Gardens farm near Ellensburg featured in the story, is not just a marijuana farmer. She’s an outspoken cannabis activist, retired Republican banker and the executive director of the Care Wellness Center, a nonprofit outreach that provides public education about medical cannabis. Carter helped draft Initiative 502, which created the state’s legal recreational industry when voters passed it almost two years ago and frequently speaks to policy groups and lawmakers across the country about marijuana issues.

Financing has been a struggle for marijuana entrepreneurs in both Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational use. Banks, often insured by federal programs, are hesitant to loan money, but the state’s licensing inspectors raise their eyebrows at unconventional loans. In fact, the license application process requires a surprising amount of detail about where growers get their start-up money. You can read the details at the Liquor Control Board’s website, but basically, regulators want to make sure cartels or other illicit enterprises aren’t involved. To come up with the untold thousands of dollars required to create Life Gardens — the security cameras alone cost $42,000 — Carter and her investors pre-sold their marijuana to retail shops, much the way wine grape growers and hop growers produce for contracts. Nobody, not even marijuana farmers, wants to be stuck with a crop they can’t sell.

I’m still trying to get a full picture of this, but marijuana obviously is regulated like no other crop. At Carter’s farm, each individual plant bore a tag with a unique bar code that allowed investigators to trace it to the production facility, batch, row and pot number. While photographer Mason Trinca and I visited, workers found a piece of branch about one-inch long that had at some time snapped off and fallen to the ground. An apple orchardist would just leave something like that and go on to bigger issues. State law requires Carter’s crew members to collect the branch, weigh it, report it to the state and then destroy it. They showed me a shiny new mulcher they bought just for that purpose.

 

The Government Wants To Buy 12 Acres Of Marijuana — For Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Calling all pot farmers: Uncle Sam is looking to buy.

An arm of the National Institutes of Health dedicated to researching drug abuse and addiction “intends” to solicit proposals from those who can “harvest, process, analyze, store and distribute” cannabis, according to a listing posted Tuesday night on a federal government website.

A successful bidder must possess a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility” capable of growing and processing 12 acres of marijuana, a 1,000-sq.-ft. (minimum) greenhouse to test the plants under controlled conditions, and “demonstrate the availability” of a vault approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration to maintain between 400 and 700 kg of pot stock, extract and cigarettes.

Back-up plans in case of emergency required.