The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) currently only allows for a limited amount of cannabis to be grown for research purposes at one single location. Now, it looks like the organization could expand the number of allowed cultivation licenses in 2021, which could open up the field up to many new applicants.
“DEA believes a range of three to 15 growers is a reasonable estimate for purposes of this economic analyses, with the understanding that the actual number could vary considerably,” states the DEA rule, which was recently made public in mid-December and will become effective starting January 19, 2021.
As of now, the University of Mississippi has long held the title of the only DEA-sanctioned entity in the US. that can grow cannabis for research. With the addition of new licenses, research opportunities could open up many new possibilities for research. “I expect them to start issuing licenses no later than the first half of 2021,” says Florida-based cannabis company Maridose’s president Richard Shain.
Maridose—along with 30 other organizations across the country—has applied for federal cultivation permits. All these organizations hope to be one of the few who are granted a license.
Many big names have applied for DEA-approved cannabis licenses, including Columbia Care in New York, NuVue Pharma out of Colorado, PharmaCann from Illinois, G.B. Sciences in Nevada, and Green Leaf from Alaska. The University of California, Davis, Fraunhofer USA and The University of Massachusetts have also applied for licenses.
However, some businesses that are applying for licenses may not be eligible. Companies that are legal at the state level are growing cannabis for profit, and therefore may not qualify as a research grow facility. Other applicants include the University of Massachusetts, University of California, Davis and Fraunhofer USA (located in Delaware).