Believe it or not, the federal government maintains its own marijuana crop at the University of Mississippi (commonly known as Ole Miss). It likely surprises you that one of the most conservative states in the Union, a state that was one of the last to relent to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and one that has some pretty tough drug laws, actually assists the federal government in cultivating a Schedule I controlled substance. What won’t surprise you is that all of the studies performed by Ole Miss and the federal government on this southern marijuana crop have led to consistent and unwaveringly negative reports about marijuana and its “effects.” Go figure.
But what exactly goes down at Ole Miss regarding marijuana? And why is Ole Miss growing cannabis at all?
Ole Miss got the marijuana gig from the Feds in 1968 to study and research cannabis. This was before implementation of the federal government’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program (CINDP) which Ole Miss’s grow now serves, in addition to research. Administered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, CINDP allows the Feds to distribute marijuana grown at Ole Miss to a very small list of people in the United States for medical use. Currently, there are only four (yes four, as in one more than three!) people on the coveted list and no new entrants are permitted. The origins of CINDP began after Robert Randall brought a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Randall, who had glaucoma, successfully used the common law doctrine of necessity to argue against charges of marijuana cultivation because it was deemed a medical necessity.
The criminal charges against Randall were dropped, and federal agencies began providing Randall with FDA-approved access to government supplies of medical marijuana after he petitioned for it 1976. Randall went public with his victory and shortly after the government tried to prevent his legal access to marijuana. As a result, in 1978, Randall sued the government again and that suit led to an out-of-court settlement which resulted in Randall gaining prescriptive access to marijuana through a federal pharmacy near his home.
Randall’s settlement was the basis for the CINDP. At its height, the program had 30 active patients. It stopped accepting new patients in 1992 after public health authorities concluded there was no scientific value to it and because of President George H.W. Bush’s desire to “get tough on crime and drugs.”
So, with only four active patients on the list, why does the federal government continue cultivating a relatively large amount of cannabis in Oxford, Mississippi? It seems it does so just to frustrate any other researchers from uncovering or reporting on the potentially useful science behind marijuana for medical use or otherwise. I say this because, according to reputable sources, “researchers can’t get anything from the 46-year-old Marijuana Research Project at Ole Miss unless the Drug Enforcement Administration gives the go-ahead. A panel on which the National Institute on Drug Abuse is represented often must sign off too. Some prominent researchers complain approval is unreasonably tough for scientists whose work aims to find beneficial uses for the drug.” But, for one scientist, Mahmoud A. ElSohly, approval of marijuana trials and tests does not seem nearly so demanding. ElSohly heads up Ole Miss’s marijuana science team and manages its 12-acre marijuana farm. ElSohly also maintains his own private lab, ElSohly Laboratories, Inc., which has repeatedly received grant money from NIDA to study and report on marijuana and its effects.
So what we have here then is the federal government (through Ole Miss and its own private contractors) maintaining a monopoly over the only federally lawful marijuana grow in the U.S. Since in various reports ElSohly himself has acknowledged the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana, we have to wonder how much of the Feds’ “war on drugs” is based largely on its war to defend its monopoly on drugs? Or as one of our cannabis business lawyers is always saying, “just follow the money.”
What do you think?