The US government is growing the largest crop of research marijuana in five years, responding to interest in varieties with high levels of THC and CBD. The government is the only source of pot for nearly all research in the US, while it still considers it illegal and dangerous. Scientists have asked for weed that more closely matches what's sold in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said in an email to the AP. The federal agency said it plans to grow 2,000 kilograms—4,409 pounds—this year at the University of Mississippi, which holds the sole federal contract for producing marijuana. That's enough for 5 million joints, although the government provides the marijuana in different forms.
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," NIDA said. The compound THC causes pot's mind-altering effect; CBD doesn't get people high. Last year, a CBD-based drug was approved by federal regulators for two rare seizure disorders and researchers are pursuing research on it for other conditions. Others are focused on THC. "We want to study what our patients are using," says University of Colorado Assistant Professor Emily Lindley, who is investigating marijuana with high THC as an alternative to opioids for chronic back pain. Lindley and other researchers want others besides the University of Mississippi to get federal authorization to grow research pot. The DEA created an application process for growers, but has not acted on more than two dozen applications.
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