Last week two companies announced that they have harvested cannabis for the purpose of scientific study with the approval of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

In 2016 the DEA committed to allow new streams of cannabis production for research purposes. For decades, the only facility that was allowed to produce research marijuana was located at the University of Mississippi, and the samples produced there have been sub-standard by all accounts.

Despite the agency’s announcement and numerous submitted applications, no additional producers were ever approved during the Trump administration. But in May of 2021, the agency finally issued conditional application approvals to a number of companies.

According to Marijuana Moment, Groff North America Hemplex and the Biopharmaceutical Research Company (BRC) has received official registration from the DEA and have already started to produce and harvest cannabis for the program. The current crops will be used for calibration purposes while future crops will be used for actual research efforts.

“All of these steps are incremental steps that lead to our production at BRC, and certainly all of our peers in the federally legal cannabis industry,” BRC CEO George Hodgin told reporters. “These steps are taking place because of the loud drumbeat of the advocates of the cannabis community over the past decades.”

Both companies report that the DEA has been completely supportive during the process.

Old Town Pot Ban Moves Forward

Last month an Albuquerque city committee advanced a proposal that would ban the sale and cultivation of cannabis in Old Town.

In mid-December the Environmental Planning Commission approved a proposed measure to amend the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance to keep cannabis production, manufacture and retail sales out of the Old Town area—roughly the area between Central Avenue, Mountain Road, Rio Grande Boulevard and 19th Street. It would still allow sales on Central Avenue and in the surrounding area.

Supporters of the ban say cannabis sales in the area would make it less family-friendly and could negatively impact the historic district. If approved, the resolution will finalize a 2021 temporary moratorium on cannabis sales in Old Town.

Study: Decriminalization Reduces Racial Disparities

A new study has found that decriminalizing cannabis not only reduces marijuana arrests overall—it also reduces racial disparities in those arrests.

In a study published this month in the journal Social Science and Medicine, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reviewed FBI Uniform Crime Report data between 2000 and 2019 in states that had decriminalized or legalized adult-use cannabis.

“Cannabis possession arrest rates declined over 70 percent among adults and over 40 percent among youths after the implementation of cannabis decriminalization in 11 states,” the study found. “Among adults, decriminalization was associated with a roughly 17 percent decrease in racial disparity in arrest rates between Blacks and Whites.”

The researchers were unable to explain the decrease.