CU study: Federal researchers are studying less potent, diverse marijuana than what’s found in Colorado

CU study recommends The National Institute on Drug Abuse allow scientists to study all publicly available cannabis strains.
2 min. read
Grower Scott Lee tends to young marijuana plants at Verde Natural’s grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Grower Scott Lee tends to young marijuana plants at Verde Natural's grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Federal researchers are studying marijuana that's different than what people are buying in dispensaries across Colorado, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Cannabis strains available for federally funded studies tend to be weaker and less diverse than what's found in states with legal marijuana. That could be problematic when the credentialed researchers report their findings about the drug, according to the study published in October.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is the only federal organization that can produce marijuana for U.S. research studies. CU's study recommends that the organization allow scientists to study all publicly available cannabis strains, as well as other widely consumed cannabis products such as edibles and concentrates.

Today’s marijuana may lead to significantly greater levels of intoxication and harm than what was available in past decades, and variation among cannabis strains could have different outcomes on studies, CU reports.

"The gap between what we know from studies using government grown cannabis and what we should know about the effects of cannabis in the real world will continue to widen with the progressive decriminalization and accessibility of high-potency, dispensary-grade cannabis," CU's study states.

"This problem can only be addressed by establishing legal methods for the nation’s scientists to access the cannabis more similar to what is sold and consumed in state-regulated marketplaces for research on the potential for harm and medical applications."

Subscribe to Denverite’s newsletter here

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at [email protected] or

Recent Stories