US medical cannabis company MedPharm Holdings subsidiary MedPharm Research has been approved for a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I Researcher License.
Acquiring this was no mean feat as the DEA is still particularly sensitive to anything cannabis related.
“It’s been a long road to getting a federally approved license,” said Albert Gutierrez, CEO of MedPharm Research. “We are thrilled and honored that the DEA saw the importance and significance of the work we do at MedPharm. We proved to them that we deserve this license.”
MedPharm Research says the DEA license authorises it to possess and use cannabis related Schedule I substances for research purposes. This will enable the firm to isolate and evaluate the activity of phytocannabinoids on various types of brain cells, and allows MedPharm to study all of the 400+ molecules known to be made by the cannabis plant.
“Access to the diversity of chemicals produced by cannabis has never been greater and we are excited to unlock the medical potential of these compounds,” said Medpharm director of chemistry and research, Tyrell Towle, PhD.
On a related note, in May this year Medpharm was awarded a research grant by the state of Colorado to evaluate cannabinoid product label claims of potency.
It’s not clear where Medpharm will source its cannabis for the new research – which can be another tricky issue in the USA. Cannabis not meeting the definition of hemp is still considered marijuana, and therefore illegal at a federal level.
Up until recently, all federally-approved studies of medical cannabis needed to source their materials from the University of Mississippi, which has been the only legal source for more than 40 years.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration dragged its heels for years on issuing licences for other parties to produce marijuana for research purposes.
It wasn’t until 2019 when the DEA finally indicated it would do so and then in March last year, the Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Then in December 2020, the DEA finalised new regulations relating to growers wanting to be registered.
In May this year, it indicated it would “soon” be able to register additional entities, and then in late May began inking agreements. So, unlike others before it, MedPharm Research should have some choice.