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In light of the DEA’s recent announcement to start processing new cannabis research applications, Cannabis Tech sat down with Albert Gutierrez, the CEO of MedPharm Research, a leader in cannabis research and formulation development, who has recently received notice that they are one of 32 applicants selected to move forward in the process.
Recently, in the wake of Dr. Sue Sisley’s lawsuit against the DEA, the federal government has been moving forward by approving companies as federally recognized cannabis suppliers. MedPharm is one of the first companies to be selected to move forward with this program.
America’s Tumultuous History with Fair Cannabis Research
With the start of nationwide prohibition in the 1930s, research regarding cannabis has faced great adversity. The sole federally recognized provider of cannabis for research has been the University of Mississippi for the better part of a century. Researchers have reported that the cannabis from the university is of such poor quality that it is virtually useless for conducting lab work and human trials, which effectively means that there was no source for cannabis to perform meaningful FDA-approved analysis.
As the cannabis industry exploded in the last two decades, pressure mounted on the DEA to allow other providers licenses to provide cannabis. The products that were commercially available and popularly consumed were nearly unrecognizable compared to the cannabis supplied by the University of Mississippi, which was weak and contained contaminants that other suppliers may have been shut down for.
It took until 2016 when cannabis had been commercially available in several states for years, for the DEA to state that they would begin to accept applications from companies to grow cannabis that would be legally recognized material on which to conduct research.
This statement was not acted upon in any way until this June when Sue Sisley sued the DEA for unreasonable delays. Now the DEA is finally moving forward and has contacted MedPharm Research, informing them that they will be allowed to move forward in the process, along with 32 other applicants, to grow federally legal cannabis under a new policy statement issued yesterday in the Federal Register.
Why is MedPharm One of the Best Choices for a Federally Recognized Supplier of Cannabis?
For years, MedPharm has been a leading member in several different fields within the cannabis industry. Explaining their process of approaching the DEA, Gutierrez stated, “We put that all together in an application to say, here’s what we bring to the table, and here’s how we can bring quality dosage forms and quality cannabis to life for researchers, because you want to make sure you have good research, and to do that you have to have a good product, right?”
One of the great strengths of MedPharm is its ability to be self-sufficient within the Denver facility. Gutierrez describes, “Our facility here in Denver, it’s a 15,000 square foot facility contains everything from cultivation to extraction to an analytical chemistry lab, a formulation lab with a USP797 clean room so we can make sterile dosage forms for research purposes, packing areas to make sure that we are handling the medicine with the utmost care… It really contains everything all in one that you’d need to be able to have what you’d call a closed-loop system so that we have high-quality dosage forms that are created in there.”
This level of independence and control over the products that they produce and analyze allows MedPharm to be one of the most consistent suppliers of cannabis in the country. They understand how to read cannabinoid and terpene profiles as they are adept at chemical analysis, they are familiar with growing high-quality cannabis, and they make their own delivery methods for medication.
In addition to this, MedPharm has been the only company registered with the state of Colorado as a recognized cannabis research facility. They are already developing clinical trials set to begin toward the end of this year on dementia and Alzheimer’s, which research has revealed that cannabis shows promise as a treatment. They are working with a world-renowned neurologist and a brain scan company on this project.
The Exciting Future for Cannabis Research and for MedPharm
With the DEA finally allowing those who produce and cultivate cannabis to supply their product for cannabis research, meaningful and accurate work will finally be able to become the national standard. This will allow not only for a further understanding of cannabis as a substance but for the most effective dosages and blends of cannabis compounds for treatment.
MedPharm plans to continue developing novel forms of cannabis consumption, particularly getting away from smoking and other oral methods. Gutierrez is looking forward to the dementia research MedPharm is developing as there have been no other studies on cannabinoids, nor the effects that they have on dementia patients which weren’t done with synthetic cannabinoids, or particular concentrations of cannabinoids.
“I think somebody in the next five to ten years will win a Nobel prize, and I hope it’s one of my team members that does that,” Gutierrez said about the research on cannabinoids and their effects on the brain.