The federal government is hiring professional joint rollers, according to a recent notice published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
OK, that’s oversimplifying the job quite a bit. But twisting up “standardized marijuana cigarettes” with strains of various potencies will be one of the responsibilities of whatever small business lands a contract with NIDA to prepare and distribute research drug products.
If your business is capable of analyzing cannabinoids and research chemicals, creating “drug dosage forms” for compounds like THC and producing marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes “of varying strengths and specifications,” this could be the gig for you. Applicants must also obtain licenses to manufacture, research, distribute and export and import Schedule I and II drugs before the time of the contract award, which is estimated to be July 2019.
Here’s the full description of the job responsibilities:
-Acquire hard-to-find controlled and uncontrolled drug compounds and/or drug dosage forms and analyze purity, authenticity, and stability of these compounds while storing them in a secure and DEA-approved facility and having the capability to ship these compounds to research investigators.
-Manufacture standardized marijuana cigarettes within a range of varying concentrations of delta-9-THC and analyze strength and stability of them at various intervals while having the capability to maintain a secure shipping facility and to ship marijuana cigarettes to research investigators.
-Manufacture nicotine research cigarettes and analyze them for required chemical constituents at various intervals while having the capability to store and ship securely these nicotine research cigarettes to research investigators.
The successful applicant must be able to demonstrate “extensive experience with and the ability to perform the above tasks,” NIDA’s notice says.
There’s no information available in the federal posting about how much the contract award is worth—but the pay is presumably higher than what rapper Waka Flocka Flame offered for a full-time blunt roller position in 2015.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
The Feds Are Hiring Professional Marijuana Joint Rollers…Kind Of
US Government Issues Low Quality, Moldy Cannabis to Scientists and Medical Researchers
The single source of cannabis for medical research in the US, which happens to be the federal government, may need to revisit their growing methods and possibly hire a mold specialist to oversee their Mississippi-based farm. This concern surfaced after scientists received staggeringly low quality batches of government-grown cannabis for clinical trials.
To make matters worse, a handful of researchers, including Dr. Sue Sisley, a doctor conducting a study on the effects of cannabis on veterans diagnosed with PTSD, received samples in a non-traditional, powder-like form with some batches containing traces of mold and high levels of total yeast.
“It didn’t resemble cannabis. It didn’t smell like cannabis,” said Sisley, who is also a lead researcher at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). “They weren’t able to produce what we were asking for.”
Based on pics of the batch received by MAPS, federal research-grade cannabis appears to be very leafy and dry, with minimal trichome formation. After a series of tests, scientists found the samples to contain roughly eight percent THC – significantly lower than the 13 percent THC potency standard promised by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). By comparison, commercial-grade cannabis from Colorado contains around 19-30 percent THC.
“A researcher in Dr. Sue Sisley’s lab prepares to weigh a sample of marijuana received from the federal facility responsible for growing marijuana for clinical research. Photo courtesy of MAPS.“
So where did these schwag NIDA strains come from?
Under a NIDA contract, government-grade cannabis is grown on a secure 12-acre farm in Mississippi. In this facility, cannabis is grown, harvested, stored and shipped out in bulk to research institutions across the country. NIDA oversees operations on the plot of land, which is sadly the only federally-organized, legal cannabis farm in the US. According to the International Business Times, the NIDA farm has been operating since 1968.
A spike in demand for cannabis by researchers may have led to poor quality control, forcing federal growers to push out undesirable batches. In 2016, the agency completed 39 orders for government-grade cannabis from 10 different medical groups – a noticeable increase from 23 requests in the previous year.
As for the mold and yeast found on the samples, both sides raised interesting points surrounding the tainted batches. NIDA claims the shipments were mishandled by the scientists. Rebecca Matthews, a clinical researcher for MAPS, debunked such accusations, stating that the samples “never left the freezer before testing.”
The main issue with utilizing low quality cannabis for clinical research is discrepancy with what’s currently available in commercial markets. Federal-grade cannabis, which Dr. Sisley found to contain less chemical diversity, is not suitable for conducting real-world studies, simply because it’s not what patients are buying from medical dispensaries.
“In two decades of smoking weed, I’ve never seen anything that looks like that,” explained Jake Browne from the Denver Post. “People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on.”
On a positive note, this concern may pressure the DEA to move forward with their plan to expand the federal growing program. Last year, the organization announced it would allow other growers to provide cannabis to scientists and clinical researchers.
In 1978, the federal government of the United States launched the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) Program, an initiative intended to provide medical cannabis grown by the government to those with serious diseases and health issues — for life. The program, however, wasn’t launched as a result of a curiosity regarding the medicinal efficacy of cannabis on the part of the nation’s leaders. Rather, it was the culmination of two lawsuits by Robert Randall, a pioneering patient from Sarasota, Florida.
In 1976, Randall sued the government and won in a federal court the right to use medical cannabis to treat his glaucoma. A Federal District Court ruled that Randall’s use of marijuana was a necessity for his health. In fact, it was this case that established the precedent of medical necessity as a plausible legal defense for prosecuted patients. However, according to the New York Times:
“Two years later, the government cut off his access to the drug, but he sued for reinstatement and won.”
Randall’s second legal battle and victory resulted in the creation of the Compassionate IND Program, which — although it serves a very small number of patients — is still in effect today. Roughly 1,200 low-quality cannabis joints (cigarettes) are distributed to patients around the United States each month.
Although Randall died in June 2001, several other patients continue to each month receive large tins containing 300 low-grade pre-rolled joints from the federal government. The cannabis is grown on a farm at the University of Mississippi that has been managed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) since 1968. Unfortunately, the Bush administration closed enrollment to the IND Program in 1992. Existing participants, however, remain within the program until death and continue to receive their canisters of low-THC cannabis joints.
Many are shocked to learn of this 37-year-old program and its participants. Upon first gaining knowledge of the program, it is easy to dismiss the story as an urban legend or internet clickbait. What is most problematic, however, is the hypocrisy illustrated by this effort. While government officials can arguably defend themselves by noting that it was a court decision that forced them to begin producing and delivering cannabis medicine to a small group of patients, the fact that cannabis continues to be categorized as Schedule I by the federal government is a blatant example of illogical and hypocritical public policy.
The FDA doesn’t reveal the number of patients participating in the IND Program, but some believe that between two and four remain. Two of these patients reside in Florida, including Irvin Rosenfeld, a 61-year-old stockbroker who has a tumor disorder, and Elvy Musikka, a 72-year-old glaucoma sufferer and cannabis legalization activist.
Rosenfeld began receiving cannabis under the program in 1982 and has written a book about his experience entitled My Medicine, the cover of which features him holding a large tin of low-grade government joints from the Compassionate IND program (grown on the NIDA-managed farm). He is probably the most publicized and interviewed of the participants. Echoing the perception that the government’s actions are hypocritical, Rosenfeld said:
“The United States federal government has been supplying me 10 marijuana cigarettes per day for almost 33 years, and in the same vein arresting people for possessing marijuana they give me for medical use.”
Rosenfeld uses cannabis to treat a rare bone tumor disease and has calculated his consumption of legal government cannabis over more than three decades, estimating that he has smoked more than 120,000 joints provided by the government’s pot farm at the University of Mississippi. Mussika, who has been highly critical of the IND Program and prohibition overall, notes that many federal lawmakers are completely unaware of this program.
“They’re very surprised — [most] didn’t know the government ever supplied anybody,”
Irvin Rosenfeld smoking one of the cannabis joints provided to him by the U.S. Government.
Until the government allows robust clinical research and human trials into the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, access to the drug for patients in states that have yet to legalize adult use will lag. It is currently the Schedule I status of cannabis that officially categorizes it as a highly addictive and dangerous drug with zero medical value (along with bath salts and heroin). Schedule II, a Controlled Substances Act category intended for less dangerous drugs, features methamphetamine and cocaine, both of which can be prescribed by a physician.
Because of its Schedule I status, doctors — even those in states with medical or adult use laws — cannot prescribe cannabis. Instead, they are limited to writing a recommendation. Many medical cannabis advocates are insisting on a Schedule III categorization, or lower, to ensure that ample research can be conducted that involves human trials and high-quality cannabis, such as that which can be purchased in states like Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.
Eventually, attrition will dwindle the patient population of the Compassionate IND Program to nothing and it will cease to exist. Although this will reduce the government’s hypocrisy, it will do little to provide safe access to cannabis medicine for millions of sick patients like Rosenfeld and Mussika.
“If I didn’t have my medical marijuana, most likely I’d be dead. If I was still alive, I’d be on disability and homebound. Instead, I’m a stockbroker here in Fort Lauderdale.”
Photo credit: wptv.com; philly.com