U.S. Government Awards University of Mississippi $69 Million to Grow Marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) this week awarded the University of Mississippi $68.8 million to grow and analyze marijuana, Time reports. The university’s marijuana research lab has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana since 1968.

The lab is planning to grow 30,000 plants, according to the magazine. NIDA requires a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility of approximately 12 acres” that could handle the “cultivation, growing, harvesting, analyzing, and storing of research grade cannabis,” according to a listing posted on a federal government website.

NIDA said it is interested in developing new methods for growing marijuana with a variety of levels of THC, the substance that creates a “high” effect. It also will grow marijuana with different levels of cannabidiol, which is being studied as a treatment for various medical disorders including epilepsy.

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced government researchers will have access to an increased supply of marijuana for medical research. NIDA researchers are now given access to 650 kilograms of marijuana, up from 21 kilograms.

NIDA conducts its own studies on marijuana, and also funds private research on the drug. On its website, the agency says it funds a wide range of research on marijuana. Research areas include patterns and trends in marijuana use and attitudes, particularly among teens; short- and medium-term effects of THC on the brain and behavior; driving under the influence of marijuana; long-term effects of prenatal and teen marijuana exposure on brain development; the development and impact of prevention programs on marijuana use; and the potential therapeutic uses of THC and other cannabinoids in treatment of pain, HIV, and addiction.

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