Feds May Spend Nearly $70 Million On Marijuana For Research

The federal government announced Monday that it is prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars on marijuana research through the University of Mississippi, which houses the only federally legal cannabis garden in the United States.

The new contract, worth a maximum of $68.7 million over five years, was awarded by the National Institutes of Health Monday and posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website. The award is a renewal of a contract with the university that the federal government has held for more than 40 years.

In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an arm of NIH that oversees the marijuana operation at Ole Miss, said, “To serve the research community, NIDA has tried to build farm capacity flexible enough to accommodate various levels of demand for research marijuana and marijuana products over the next five years.”

NIDA is already obligated to spend $1.5 million on Ole Miss marijuana research for the 2015 fiscal year, the organization told HuffPost. And while the costliest possible scenario has the federal government spending close to $70 million on marijuana research, NIDA explained that demand at Ole Miss is currently low, and the feds expect they’ll spend closer to $8 million over the five-year period unless demand increases.

Last year, Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, the lead scientist at Ole Miss’s marijuana lab, appeared to be getting ready for a large harvest, telling the Los Angeles Times that his team was preparing to grow 30,000 cannabis plants. But it’s not clear how many plants the lab intends to cultivate in the coming year.

University of Mississippi researchers in the marijuana lab declined to comment to HuffPost on the federal award or the size of the plant garden in 2015.

The marijuana grown at Ole Miss is the only marijuana legally —> Read More