Tin of medical marijuana cigarettes provided to IND patients by the federal government. Source: ProCon.org

On Aug. 5, 2009, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced its request for proposal (RFP) seeking someone to grow marijuana for government research and for the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program. Submission deadline is Oct. 9, 2009.

The one to five year contract requires the grower to produce a minimum of 125,000 marijuana cigarettes in four potencies from "placebo" (0% THC) to "high" (3.5-5% THC), plus 500-1,000 cigarettes at greater than 5% THC. NIDA has the option to request either 1.5 or 6.5 acres of marijuana per year under the contract.

The University of Mississippi has held the government contract to grow marijuana since 1968, and it is among the 15 applicants bidding for the 2009 contract (as of Sep. 28, 2009). The University of Mississippi grows and dries the marijuana, then sends it to the Research Triangle Institute where it is rolled into cigarettes and packaged in tins for the four remaining US government IND medical marijuana patients.

Additional Information

1. NIDA RFP No. N01DA-10-7773 "Production, Analysis, and Distribution of Cannabis and Marijuana Cigarettes, and Related Materials" (350 KB)

2. NIDA's responses to 63 questions about submitting a proposal (35 KB)

3. What is the US government's Compassionate IND program for medical marijuana?

4. Who are the patients receiving medical marijuana through the federal government's Compassionate IND program?

5. Potency of government medical marijuana grown by the University of Mississippi

Pro Government Research on Medical Marijuana

Con Government Research on Medical Marijuana

The Los Angeles Times wrote the following in a Sep. 4, 2009 editorial titled "Pass Pot Research Around," posted on latimes.com:

"When the federal Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a request for proposals, seeking competitive applications for the production, analysis and distribution of 'marijuana cigarettes,' the request might have seemed a bit unusual to those unfamiliar with Washington's dance around cannabis research...

For 40 years now, Washington has sought such 'competitive applications' and
[the University of] Mississippi 'wins' every time.

This rigged contest has successfully thwarted meaningful academic inquiry into marijuana's medicinal value, without which the debate over its efficacy is bound to endure...

Even if the university were running a perfect program, one institution cannot fulfill the country's research needs...

The deadline for this latest round of applications is Oct. 9. The government should take the opportunity to break the University of Mississippi's monopoly and choose a different institution. That step alone would be a sign that the Obama administration will prioritize science over politics. Merely shifting the contract from one institution to another, however, won't change the status quo. That will only happen when the federal government changes policy and awards multiple contracts for this important research."

Sep. 4, 2009 Los Angeles Times

Rachel Ehrenfeld, PhD, Director of the American Center for Democracy, wrote the following in a Aug. 13, 2009 article titled "ObamaCare's Medical Marijuana," posted online by Forbes magazine:

Since when is the U.S. government in the business of distributing marijuana cigarettes? Is this part of the health care programs the Obama administration is so keen to enforce?...

If the government legitimizes marijuana use and develops a new marijuana cigarettes industry, [George] Soros will no doubt boast that he had a part in this feat.

The evidence about the harm caused by marijuana to the individual user and society is overwhelming. Yet the government is now moving for large production and distribution of marijuana. If this is part of the ObamaCare project, it would surely cause the opposite of what it is purporting to do."

Aug. 13, 2009 Rachel Ehrenfeld, PhD