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Saying you grow marijuana “for research” sounds like an excuse an 18-year-old college student would give to campus security. But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is looking for candidates to do just that.
The agency is reportedly recruiting people to grow marijuana for federally sanctioned research in the US.
In August, the DEA sent waves of hope through the medical marijuana community when it announced it would finally allow new institutions to obtain grow licenses. There’s just one problem: The DEA has no takers.
Health news site STAT contacted almost a dozen agriculture schools last month and found that not one was interested or planned to apply for registration with the DEA.
STAT put in calls to universities from coast to coast, including schools in pot-friendly states, such as the University of California – Davis, Colorado State University, and Oregon State University, which offers a sociology class on “marijuana policy in the 21st century.”
Other schools that were contacted include Cornell University, Virginia Tech, University of Vermont, Michigan State University, and Purdue University.
- Uriel Sinai/Getty
STAT’s Andrew Joseph learned from speaking with researchers that many are wary of the costs associated with opening a cultivation facility. Construction alone could set growers back millions of dollars, according to an attorney who formerly coordinated Illinois’ medical marijuana program.
Growers must also show evidence they have security measures in place to keep the marijuana safe from prying hands, which adds to the expenditures.
The DEA has also implied it’s not looking for candidates with “previous experience handling controlled substances,” regardless of marijuana’s legal status in the state where they reside. The disclaimer is enough to scare away applicants who have dabbled in cultivating pot.
Until now, the University of Mississippi has cornered the market on marijuana manufacturing.
Over four decades ago, the DEA teamed up with the University of Mississippi to grow weed legally and distribute it for federally authorized studies. Because of this monopoly, scientists had to wait years to get their hands on research-grade drugs that meet their specifications. Allowing more universities to grow means there will be more strains available for study.
The DEA’s move to open its application process clears a major hurdle for researchers wanting to build evidence in support of the plant’s medicinal use. Now the agency just needs volunteers.