MJBizMag July 2022 - 36

Research Renaissance
MAKING
L
ong restricted by the federal
government and stigmatized
by the medical and scientific
communities, cannabis has been
involved in only a handful of studies
carried out in the United States over
the past several decades.
The overwhelming majority
of cannabis studies undertaken
by universities, pharmaceutical
companies and other entities-and
frequently funded by the cannaskeptical
National Institute on Drug
Abuse and the National Institutes of
Health-have focused on addiction
and impairment, impact on teens
and other potentially negative
consequences of cannabis.
But federal agencies such as the Drug
Enforcement Administration and the
Food and Drug Administration-while
not exactly smoking blunts with NORML
on the frontlines of legalization-are not
the anti-marijuana zealots they were
only a decade ago.
DEA EXPANDS LICENSES
The DEA, for example, has in the past
year increased the number of entities
licensed to cultivate cannabis for
federally approved research from one
to six. The agency also has awarded
cannabis research licenses, including
some for companies with state-issued
marijuana business licenses, such as
Colorado-based MedPharm Holdings.
There has been a modest increase
in federal funding opportunities for
36 Julu 2022 | MJBizMagazine
By Omar Sacirbey
HEADWAY
Cannabis companies find increasing levels of acceptance-and
federal licensure-for therapeutic research involving marijuana
of the Scottsdale Research Institute,
one of the six entities to receive federal
cannabis cultivation approval. " We have
had an excellent rapport with the DEA. "
Albert Gutierrez is the CEO of MedPharm.
cannabis research, and at least one
state-licensed marijuana company,
CT Pharma in Connecticut, has
federal approval to provide cannabis
for a study in partnership with Yale
University. Such research funding
likely will increase, thanks to a
provision in the $1 trillion federal
infrastructure bill passed last year
allowing researchers to use cannabis
from state-licensed businesses.
Additionally, many federally
approved cannabis growers and
researchers say the DEA and FDA have
been supportive partners.
" The DEA has actually been very
good to work with. They're slow, I'll
say that. But for the most part, they're
very responsive, " MedPharm CEO
Albert Gutierrez told MJBizDaily earlier
this year.
" The DEA has been an extremely
collaborative supporter ... ever since I
started working with them 15 years ago, "
said Dr. Sue Sisley, executive director
GROWING PARTNERSHIPS
At the same time, U.S. medical,
scientific and pharmaceutical circles
have been slow to accept the therapeutic
benefits of cannabis-though that, too,
is changing.
Indeed, a few universities are
studying cannabis' potential
therapeutic effects, such as one study
into pain management coordinated by
the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
in New York in partnership with
Minnesota-based multistate operator
Vireo Health, a subsidiary of Goodness
Growth Holdings.
" There has been a marked change in
terms of buy-in from physicians and
providers, " said Dr. Stephen Dahmer,
chief medical officer at Vireo. " I've seen
a tremendous shift in bias. "
Despite this progress, marijuana's
status as a Schedule 1 drug still makes it
very difficult to get research approval.
Many research institutions find the
amount of time, effort and money
needed to get federal approval to study
cannabis remains too much squeeze for
the juice in return.
Other cannabis executives eschew
the federal framework by surveying
their own consumer database for
information about product efficacy,
as California-based infused products

MJBizMag July 2022

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