Photo by Emily Hobelmann. Bountiful buds at the Gage Green Group booth at the Area 101 farmers market 2014.
Photo by Emily Hobelmann. Bountiful buds at the Gage Green Group booth at the Area 101 farmers market 2014.

NIDA Seeks Cannabis Farm

Are you a cannabis farmer looking for a buyer? It could be Uncle Sam. Next year the contract runs out for University of Mississippi, which has been the U.S. government’s sole supplier of marijuana for research since 1968.

This Tuesday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) posted on their website an intent to solicit proposals for one or more new cannabis farms. Requirements include a secure and video monitored outdoor facility able to grow and process 12 acres and cannabis, as well as a greenhouse to test plants under controlled conditions and a DEA approved vault capable of storing nearly 1600 pounds.

Bidders must also have a 1,000 square foot indoor growing facility; back-up facilities; DEA registration for Schedule II drugs; and eligible for DEA registration for Schedule I substances. Those last requirements may be the most difficult of all, and according to NIDA, the University of Mississippi submitted the only proposal when bids were last accepted in 2009.

Dr. Lyle Craker told U.S. News and World Report that the bid is merely a formality done every 5 years. He said he doesn’t think anyone stands a chance of breaking up the University of Mississipi’s monopoly, while Michele Leonhart remains at the helm of the DEA.

Craker came closer to cracking the monopoly in 2007, when after years of jumping through bureaucratic hoops a DEA Administrative Law Judge endorsed his proposal to open a second cannabis farm. But the proposal was ultimately quashed by Leonhart. An NIDA spokeswoman told U.S. News the bidding process is open, and that the University of Mississippi is not a shoo-in.

Craker says he hopes commercial growers in states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana will submit bids, but he’s not optimistic about their chances so long as Leonhart — a loud opponent of liberalizing marijuana laws — is in charge of the DEA.

25% Fewer Painkiller Overdose Deaths in States with Medical Cannabis Access

Speaking of liberalizing marijuana laws — one unintended consequence of the trend is that fewer people are dying from opiate overdose. Researchers from John Hopkins and Columbia Universities released a peer-reviewed study on Monday that shows annual deaths from opiate overdosing is 25 percent less in states that allow patient access to medical marijuana. Using death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that the rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths increased in all states from 1999 to 2010. The yearly rate of opioid painkiller overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws, however, was about 25 percent lower, on average, than the rate in states without these laws.

LA County issues first Hempcrete Building Permit in California

In California, Hemp activists are celebrating the first permitted use of hempcrete in the state. A couple from the town of Rolling Hills in Los Angeles County waited 6 months for for approval from LA County’s Building and Safety Division. A spokesperson for the division said it was approved as an insulator, not as a structural material. The hemp making up the insulation came from a U.K.-based company called Lime Technology, adding $837 in shipping costs to a project they say would have cost about the same as traditional insulation otherwise.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Latest City to Decriminalize Cannabis

The City Council of Sante Fe New Mexico decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis. When the ordinance goes into effect the possession of an ounce or less will be a ticketed offense with fines not to exceed 25 dollars.

Citizens Criticize Maryland’s Proposed MMJ Rules

And in Maryland, the first public hearing on final medical marijuana regulations was held on Tuesday, even though the final regulations are due in less than three weeks. At the meeting Physicians, patients, advocates and potential growers vocalized strong disappointment in the rules. Patients must sign complicated waivers, and the rules disqualify any patient with a history of substance abuse, even if the problem had been under control for decades. Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor in the previous five years would also be disqualified, which would restrict access for medical marijuana users charged with possession of paraphernalia before the law took effect. Critics say the draft rules also make it nearly impossible for a dispensary to operate in Baltimore.

In International Cannabis News

The Australian state of Victoria has amended the state’s laws to allow for medical marijuana trials. Victoria’s Health Minister David Davis announced the trials one day after Australia’s Labor opposition party announced that – if elected- it would legalize medical marijuana in Australia.

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