BOONCHAI WEDMAKAWAND/GETTY IMAGES
It’s always good news when the only dealer that can supply your Devil’s Kale tells you they are soon going to have even more cannabis to buy. Yes!
Except when it’s bad news, because your dealer is the Drug Enforcement Administration. And much like someone with untreated ADHD using a 40 watt sun lamp in a cardboard box to grow three sickly plants, the DEA is the nation’s worst grower.
Last week, the DEA announced they will be producing even more cannabis in 2020. It’s a 30 percent increase to 3.2 million grams, or over 7,000 pounds of that sweet, potent federal flower. The struggle with quality versus quantity is still an issue where the DEA has shown no progress, in turn undercutting all federally funded cannabis research.
This isn’t flower you will be able to buy at your local dispensary (not that you would want to anyway). Per Marijuana Moment, the DEA explains that the 7,000 pounds of their finest is solely allocated for the “estimated medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States, for lawful export requirements, and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks.” Bummer to be any of those recipients, seeing as how it’s the worst of the worst: cannabis grown exclusively for over 50 years by the Three Stooges of cannabis production, the University of Mississippi.
Last month in a two-part column series profiling Elvy Musikka, one of the last remaining recipients of federally grown cannabis for medical use, I had several joints from the six pounds of pre-rolls Elvy picks up annually in Miami from the Feds tested by Green Leaf Labs. The results of this sad sub-swag were pathetic: 5.3 percent THC, with no measurable terpenes. (You know, just like everyone is trying to find at the dispensaries.) Perhaps not too surprising, seeing as researchers have complained for years about receiving a ground up mixture of leaves, flowers, and stems, sometimes with mold.
Also not a surprise when you consider that Mahmoud ElSohly, the man in charge of the University of Mississippi’s grow program recently said that “eight percent THC in a plant material is extremely high potency for somebody to actually finish a (cannabis) cigarette” and furthermore “why people want to smoke or use 20 percent or 15 or 18 or any of those high amounts is just beyond me. It’s not for a good reason.” (Meaning they are for…bad reasons?)
This increase in production aligns with the overall increase of interest in cannabis research, with a majority of US states now operating medical or recreational cannabis programs. According to Marijuana Moment: “The DEA said the number of individuals registered with the agency to conduct research into marijuana, its extracts and derivatives and THC 'has increased by more than 40 percent, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.'”
The quality factor could change substantially if other producers were allowed to grow for the Feds, which the DEA has been promising to do for over three years, with more than 30 grow applicants each paying a $3,000 deposit, which the DEA still holds. They say they need to establish additional rules around these new potential growers, and has given no date as to when these regulations are expected to be introduced.
An increase in cannabis research is both needed and welcomed, but using cannabis which is not used by consumers, patients, or anyone isn’t true research. It radically skews towards a less effective, more harmful series of outcomes for test subjects. It hamstrings researchers from discovering the true potential and risks of cannabis. Hopefully the DEA will move to get cracking on those grower applications. I assure you, there is no shortage of growers who could consistently produce better than what Ole Miss is vomiting up.