Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Marijuana the Feds Allow for Research Is More Like Hemp Than Real-Life Pot

If you bought this at a dispensary, you'd demand your money back.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the major complaints from marijuana researchers in recent years is that cannabis grown for research purposes is, to put it bluntly, basically skunk weed.

CasarsaGuru | Getty Images

Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Northern Colorado offers science to back up that claim. They found that marijuana from the federal facility is genetically closer to hemp than it is to the weed for sale at your local dispensary. That's a problen because, as the researchers wrote, "These results suggest that subjects consuming research grade marijuana may experience different effects than average consumers."

It's like test driving a Honda to find out what it's like to drive a BMW.

Related: Hemp vs. Marijuana: Why Can't Cops Tell Them Apart?

Marijuana from Ole Miss.

The University of Mississippi is the only place licensed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to grow marijuana for research purposes. That's because marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal drug in the eyes of the federal government.

The school recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of having the contract with the government to grow research-grade marijuana. In an article on the school website late in 2018 about the anniversary, the school's pharmacy dean said the university "has done an outstanding job of working within federal guidelines to produce cannabis products that are standardized for scientific research."

The University of North Colorado study, however, found that research at the school, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA), is producing cannabis that is "genetically divergent" from commercial cannabis.

The researchers investigated the genetics of research cannabis because previous studies already had found THC and cannabinoid levels in research marijuana were less than that found in cannabis purchased legally in Colorado, Washington and California.

The Washington Post reported that while marijuana is supposed to have 13 percent THC, tests show research-grade marijuana had about 8 percent.

Related: Will Medical Cannabis Sales Eventually Surpass Recreational Sales?

More fuel for the fire.

The study offers more research to support the ongoing effort to get the DEA to license more facilities to grow research-grade marijuana.

The DEA had started procedures to license more facilities during the Obama Administration, but none had been awarded as of early April. Frustrated researchers have sent photos of research weed they have been given that looks more like lawn clippings than actual marijuana -- and that was two years ago.

Both the Justice Department and DEA officials told Vox they either had no update on the program or were working through the issue, without further explanation. Meanwhile, researchers continue to worry that without proper marijuana to test, consumers still don't have a clear idea on the effects and potential health treatments available with cannabis.

Follow on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.