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MedPharm is already approved for research purposes at the city and state level, but has been waiting for federal approval since 2016.
Denver-based marijuana breeder and researcher MedPharm eventually got a green thumbs up from the Drug Enforcement Administration to begin researching medical marijuana for state-approved studies.
“We can now begin to participate at the federal level instead of being limited to the state level,” says Dr. Tyrell Towle, Director of Extraction and Chemistry at MedPharm at the firm, realizing that we would be able to handle the growing research on the federal side while maintaining our state-run operations. ”
MedPharm is already approved at the city and state levels for the cultivation of medical marijuana for research purposes, but has been waiting for state approval since 2016 – and the company is not ready yet. Although MedPharm is now approved to study marijuana for medical research purposes, the facility still cannot use its own marijuana.
DEA-approved marijuana researchers are limited to plants grown by DEA-approved manufacturers that are still under review for approval. MedPharm is currently in the process of applying for its own manufacturing license, which will allow the company to purchase its own marijuana and study more advanced forms of cannabis extracts than just flowers. NuVue Pharm, another Colorado candidate, is also currently in the running for a mass production license with an application pending with the DEA (and plans to apply for a research license), according to NuVue Vice President Katharine Avery.
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The University of Mississippi has been the sole marijuana supplier to researchers for decades, but Towle understands that Ole Miss shouldn’t expect a call from MedPharm as the company awaits approval for a manufacturing license.
As it turns out, there are some catches with working with federal agencies on a List I substance. The DEA may come for an inspection at any time to ensure federal regulations are being followed. According to MedPharm, license holders are also obliged to report regularly to the authority on security measures in the facility.
“You hear horror stories about the FBI, but the agent we worked with was actually very helpful and really helped us point us in the right direction,” said Duncan Mackie, director of pharmacology and experimental therapy at MedPharm.
The company’s scientific research proposal – a requirement for a DEA research license – is to expand MedPharm’s state-level studies into the potential of marijuana to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The method induces brain cells into an oxidative state (a stressful state that brain cells experience in Alzheimer’s disease) to see if and how cannabinoids can treat them. MedPharm has been approved to study both phyto- and synthetic cannabinoids, which offers more potential for future studies.
A DEA license would allow government-approved cannabis makers and researchers to trade and ship bulk plants and potential medical treatments for clinical trials across the country to other licensees. Towle believes this is a breakthrough promise that will move the industry forward on a larger scale while positioning MedPharm as an ideal partner for future cannabis researchers.
“This is huge because now we can participate with anyone else who has a Schedule I research license, and [we] Working on projects together, “says Towle.