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The National Institute On Drug Abuse Is Growing New Strains And Doing More Research…But Is Their Monopoly Over?

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For decades the National Institute on Drug Abuse has released several studies on marijuana, mostly attempting to explain and prove that the drug is harmful and should be kept illegal. As legalization progresses throughout the country, NIDA is expanding their studies to also look at the benefits of cannabis, while continuing to release information similar to what they’re known for. According to an article in The Verge, NIDA has received complaints from researchers claiming the drug they supply is too weak compared with what’s sold on the streets, legal or otherwise. So the organization is making some changes. It’s not the aforementioned complaints that are causing the change, but rather, Nature reports that it’s “NIDA’s willingness to expand the types of plants available to researchers is tied to the fact that legal marijuana is becoming increasingly available.”

Nora Volkow, director of NIDA in Rockville, Maryland, explained to Nature: “We want to be able to evaluate the claims that marijuana is therapeutically beneficial.”

NIDA’s marijuana supply is grown at the University of Mississippi before it’s given to “qualifying research groups”. Last year, “the farm increased production from about 40 pounds to more than 1,300 pounds, and NIDA increased its spending on research marijuana by 50 percent.”

The Verge also points out that the University of Mississippi has started growing two new strains of marijuana that will be available to researchers soon. “One of them contains high levels of cannabidiol, a substance that isn’t hallucinogenic but that appears to have therapeutic effects. This should allow researchers to evaluate pot’s ability to reduce pain, for instance.”

However, the plants being grown in Mississippi still won’t be as strong as marijuana that people can get in a dispensary or on the street. According to the article, “NIDA’s strongest pot contains 12 percent THC — pot’s primary psychoactive component — whereas most of the pot that’s seized by the DEA contains 20 percent THC.”

Even with NIDA expanding its marijuana studies, there are still issues with the organization’s protocol. The application process is “so long, that the Colorado government asked the US federal government if it would allow universities in the state to grow their own pot for research.”

The Verge also stated that NIDA’s monopoly on marijuana research may be coming to an end. Last week, legislation backed by Republicans and Democrats alike was introduced in the US Senate that “would let at least three more FDA-approved institutions cultivate marijuana for research purposes. The bill would also get rid of the review process that can add years to a study’s approval time.”

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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