“The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) administers a contract with the University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for research purposes and is the only legal source for cannabis [marijuana] in the United States.
NIDA also supplies cannabis to seven patients under single patient so-called ‘compassionate use’ Investigational New Drug Applications (IND). In 1978, as part of a lawsuit settlement by the Department of Health and Human Services, NIDA began supplying cannabis to patients whose physicians applied for and received such an USID from the FDA. In 1992 the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] terminated this practice, but decided that NIDA should continue to supply those patients who were receiving cannabis at the time.
NIDA has overseen the farm since the institute’s inception in 1974. NIDA’s predecessor, National Institutes of Mental Health, founded a drug supply program in 1968 to provide researchers with the compounds necessary to conduct biomedical research and cannabis was among the first substances to be made available. They ‘provide a contamination-free source of cannabis material with consistent and predictable potency’ (as per NIDA, 1-98) for biomedical research.
The University of Mississippi has the option to grow either 1.5 or 6.5 acres of cannabis per year or to not grow any, depending on demand.
Generally (as of January 1998) 1.5 acres are grown in alternate years which can typically produce 50,000-60,000 cigarettes per year of three grades of potencies [strength 1: 3-4% THC; strength 2: 1.8-2.2% THC; strength 3: placebo, as close to 0% THC as possible]. Virtually all of the nearly 65,000 cigarettes produced between 1994-1996 were for single patients.
As of March 1997 there were 278,100 cigarettes in stock which are maintained in frozen storage for up to five years.”Jan. 1998