The person in charge of growing cannabis at the only Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-approved farm recently stated that eight percent THC is potent enough, and that no consumer needs stronger cannabis.
Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly is in charge of the government’s only registered cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi and is tasked with growing all of the cannabis used for scientific and medical research. Unfortunately for researchers, that cannabis is known to be low quality and not as helpful for research. “It’s brown, muddy garbage,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a physician and board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.
The low concentration of THC in the cannabis grown by ElSohly has caused frustration for scientists, who claim that what is grown on the farm does not reflect what consumers have available at the dispensary. Medical patients tend to prefer higher potency cannabis, as opposed to consuming more cannabis to feel the effects. Most legal recreational cannabis tests between 15 to 25 percent THC, which is double to triple the potency of the cannabis ElSohly grows.
“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,” ElSohly said. “Of course, some people are so addicted that it really requires a lot of material to make them high.”
The DEA said it will move ahead with its long-delayed expansion of its cannabis research program after first announcing the expansion in August 2016. Since then, the DEA has received 33 applications to grow cannabis for research, but no further action on the applications has been taken. The DEA recently responded to a lawsuit initially filed by Dr. Sue Sisley, who heads the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona, saying that it will begin processing the pending applications and future applications will be processed within 90 days.