For years, the University of Mississippi has been the only entity federally licensed to produce marijuana for research . Researchers have complained in recent years that the cannabis produced there is not like the cannabis sold in states where medical and so-called recreational marijuana is legal.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Monday it would move forward to expand the number of marijuana growers for federally authorized cannabis research.
The agency is also planning to propose new regulations that would govern the program and help the agency evaluate the applications.
The contract awarded Monday by an arm of the National Institutes of Health will go to a marijuana research lab at Ole Miss, which has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana since 1968. The project is ramping up to grow 30,000 plants, according to the Los Angeles Times.
U ncle Sam has awarded the University of Mississippi $68.8 million to grow marijuana and analyze it.
When the contract solicitation was posted online in August, an NIDA spokeswoman told TIME that the agency was simply starting a new bidding competition since its existing marijuana farm contract was set to expire in 2015.