Maridose, LLC is a Florida-based research firm that’s close to obtaining approval from the DEA to cultivate cannabis for research purposes in Maine. The firm is in the final stages to receive a federal license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which will allow it to grow cannabis in the state of Maine for medical research, as reported by the Portland Press Herald.
This company is one of at least 37 companies that has applied to the agency to cultivate cannabis for federal research. However, only around 600 scientists (two of which are located in Maine) across the country have federal approval to study the plant.
“Although no drug product made from marijuana has yet been safe and effective in such clinical trials, DEA… fully supports expanding research into the potential medical utility of marijuana and its chemical constituents,” the agency explained in its policy statement.
Last year, the DEA announced that it would be approving applications to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. Allowing more growers would increase both the variety and volume needed for cannabis research — which has been strictly limited due to marijuana being a Schedule 1 drug, remaining illegal under federal law.
Medical Cannabis Research is Ramping Up
This Florida-based company, Maridose, is founded by Richard Shain, a former Procter & Gamble executive, and product development specialist, and partners with Tikun Olam — Israel’s most prominent legal grower and supplier for medical cannabis. Shain stated that the company planned to contract with researchers for specific strains and described the amount of cannabis they could grow as “minuscule.”
According to Shain, “We won’t be sitting there with 50 pounds of cannabis, waiting to sell it to the researchers. We’re not planning on growing generic mass strains. [Our comapny] will custom-grow the amount needed for the study.” While Maridose grows and works with cannabis, Shain explained that it is not a cannabis company. He stated that it is a biotech research company and cannot sell cannabis to the public.
So far, it is unclear how many permits the DEA intends to issue. In the rule published under the Federal Register, the agency included cost estimates for three to 15 sites, but they did not commit to a number. These cultivators must have safeguards in place to prevent the diversion of cannabis to the illicit market and the ability to provide an adequate and uninterrupted supply to the researchers.
It has been more than four years since Maridose submitted its application to the DEA and over six years since the administration announced it would be expanding its research cultivation program to 37 applicants, including universities, biotech startups, research institutes, and other cannabis-related companies.
The DEA has determined that licensees must have experience working with controlled substances. However, the agency is still reluctant to do business with applicants working with cannabis, even in a state such as Maine, where it is entirely legal. Cultivation in a state market doesn’t violate state law, but it is still a federal crime.
A Long Time Coming for DEA Approval
Between 2017 and 2020, the agency increased its cannabis production quota from 472 kilograms to 3,200 — a 578 percent increase. In addition, in that same period, the DEA raised the number of registered researchers from 371 to 595, a 60 percent increase. This means more researchers are registered to study cannabis than any other Schedule I substance in the country, as stated by the DEA in a news release.
The DEA declined to provide an updated figure for the number of registered researchers and would not state how many of those were in Maine, but it is known that there are at least two.