Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse in Colorado, not for research.

Enlarge / Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse in Colorado, not for research. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

With the recent explosion of cannabis access and CBD products, federally funded scientists are craving more research on the potential risks and benefits. But if any researchers were hoping for more varied sources of cannabis—sources that could better reflect what patients have access to, for instance—they may be left holding their breath.

Three years after saying it wanted more suppliers of cannabis for research, the US government continues to hold a monopoly on growing the crop. While more than two dozen entities have submitted applications to the Drug Enforcement Administration to become growers, the government has dragged its feet in processing the paperwork and is instead stepping up its own crop; its exclusive supplier, the University of Mississippi, is growing 2 tons this year, the largest crop in five years, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Orthopedics researcher Emily Lindley at the University of Colorado and other researchers are not happy with the situation, according to the AP. Lindley, who is studying whether cannabis with high THC levels could be an alternative to addictive opioids for chronic back pain, says she wants more suppliers than just Ole Miss, which has had limited strain varieties and product availability. “We want to study what our patients are using,” she said.

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