The DEA has granted a research license to Colorado-based company. The move provides an additional outlet for companies that are trying to enter the legal cannabis market, but it also reveals the deep ties between the industry and big pharma.
MedPharm Research, a subsidiary of US medicinal cannabis business MedPharm Holdings, has been granted a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I Researcher License.
The DEA is still very sensitive to anything cannabis-related, so obtaining this was no easy task.
“Getting a nationally authorized license has been a lengthy road,” said Albert Gutierrez, CEO of MedPharm Research. “We are delighted and pleased that the DEA recognizes the value of the work we perform at MedPharm. We demonstrated to them that we are deserving of this license.”
The DEA authorization allows MedPharm Research to possess and utilize cannabis-related Schedule I drugs for research purposes, according to the company. This will allow MedPharm to isolate and analyze the action of phytocannabinoids on different kinds of brain cells, as well as investigate all of the cannabis plant’s 400+ compounds.
“We are thrilled to uncover the medicinal potential of these compounds since access to the variety of chemicals generated by cannabis has never been greater,” said Tyrell Towle, PhD, head of chemistry and research at Medpharm.
In a similar development, the state of Colorado granted Medpharm a research grant in May to investigate cannabis product label claims of potency.
It’s unclear where Medpharm will get its cannabis for the new study, which may be a difficult problem in the United States. Cannabis that does not fit the criteria of hemp is still classified as marijuana, making it illegal on the federal level.
Until recently, all federally authorized medicinal marijuana research had to get their materials from the University of Mississippi, which has been the sole legal source for more than 40 years.
For years, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has been slow to issue licenses to third parties to grow marijuana for research reasons.
It wasn’t until 2019 that the DEA suggested it might do so, and then the Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in March of last year. The DEA then finalized new rules for producers that wish to be registered in December 2020.
It said in May that it will be able to establish more companies “soon,” and then started signing deals in late May. MedPharm Research, unlike others before it, should have a choice.