OXFORD, Miss. (WJTV) — Since 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has only issued one license for marijuana cultivation, and that belongs to the University of Mississippi.
WJTV met with researchers in Oxford about the marijuana farm.
The marijuana project takes up an entire building at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The secured lab is hidden on campus.
“You produce what the government asks you to produce,” said Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, a researcher at Ole Miss. “If they ask for 10 kilos or something we do that in the grow room.”
Once the plant is finished growing, the team breaks it down for research.
“We are working under the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Therefore there is a lot more interest in doing drug abuse research and the negative side effects,” he said.
But with set dosages, prescribed by doctors, Dr. ElSohly says the plant can be a powerful cure. NIDA works with the national institute of health.
The NIH said marijuana has the potential to safely treat pain, nausea, epilepsy, obesity, addiction and autoimmune disorders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already approved medication with THC to help with cancer and aids patients.
“The industry was shy at researching because it’s marijuana and marijuana has a bad name to it and a stigma attached to it and they didn’t want to develop it,” he said.
Researchers here experiment with different levels of CBD and THC. CBD can be used for medication. THC will provide the high. They also studied street drugs, but the feds recently shut that program down.
“The good thing about this plant, you can’t really ingest too much to kill you,” he said. “Before you get to a point, it will kill you, and you will pass out.”
Dr. ElSohly says he’s never seen a death from marijuana in his triple decade career. So far, eight states legalized marijuana. Mississippi decriminalized small amounts in 1978.
However, there could be problems we will see after legalization.
“Problems with long-term with the young generation stoned and lack of motivation to do things,” he said. “Plus the activity on people prone to psychological disorders is exaggerated by marijuana.”
He also wants customers who shop at dispensaries to know the marijuana products can be unsafe.
“You’re talking about making a drug like marijuana and putting it on the market and claiming specific uses, but there is no scientific data to support what is in the dispensary,” he said. “They didn’t generate the data; they don’t have data. All they are interested in is to grow it, harvest and put it there sell it and get a lot of money.
It’s hard to apply for the DEA approved grant to grow this plant. It costs millions of dollars to construct a farm like the one at Ole Miss, but the DEA says they will work with more growers to expand the supply and variety of marijuana for research.