The Victorian government is planning to establish a research centre in Brunswick to test the medicinal qualities of cannabis. The facility will examine the effects of different strains, their THC levels, and how they interact with each other.



Maridose LLC, located in Florida, has set up shop in TechPlace, Brunswick Landing’s business incubator, and is seeking government license to cultivate marijuana for research.

In Maine, a Florida-based research organization is nearing completion of securing a rare federal license to cultivate cannabis for medicinal study.

Maridose LLC is one of at least 37 firms that have filed to the Drug Enforcement Administration for permission to produce cannabis for government research purposes. Only approximately 600 scientists have government authority to research marijuana throughout the nation, including at least two in Maine. 

For for over 50 years, the University of Mississippi has enjoyed a monopoly on cannabis growing for federally sanctioned research. The DEA said in 2016 that it will be opening up its marijuana production contract to other farmers, as interest in cannabis research grew.

“Although no therapeutic product manufactured from marijuana has yet been proved to be safe and effective in such clinical studies,” the DEA said in its policy statement. “DEA… firmly supports extending research into the potential medical value of marijuana and its chemical elements.”

Allowing additional cultivators would boost the quantity and type of cannabis available for study, which has previously been restricted due to marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 substance, which is still prohibited under federal law. With such a limited supply of the medicine, scientists have long grumbled about the difficulties of doing clinically meaningful studies.

After reading the DEA’s announcement, Richard Shain, a former Procter & Gamble executive and product development specialist, teamed up with Tikun Olam, Israel’s largest legal grower and supplier of medical pot, to launch Maridose.

They’ve set up shop in Brunswick Landing’s TechPlace, a company incubator. For the time being, the about 2,200 square feet will suffice, but Shain said he has ideas for a bigger facility at Brunswick Landing, which he wants to begin next year.

Local DEA agents finished their final examination of the Brunswick Landing site on April 21, Shain claimed — he wanted it to be on April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday, for poetic justice. But, regrettably, time constraints prevented it.

He added the corporation is now simply waiting for the final approval from the federal government. The firm will be allowed to begin custom-cultivating cannabis for research if the license is approved.

According to Shain, Maridose will get a contract for the cannabis they want from a particular researcher, and the DEA will then let them to produce it for that individual or team.

“We’re not going to sit around with 50 pounds of cannabis waiting to sell it to researchers,” he added. “We have no intention of mass-producing generic strains.” We’ll expand the amount required for the research on a case-by-case basis.”

Because Maridose’s client base is restricted to 600 registered researchers, the quantity Maridose will be able to cultivate is “minuscule” compared to what even a modest commercial grower could harvest, Shain added. Maridose intends to do its own study as well.

Shain wouldn’t say what that study would include, but he did say that the business aims to concentrate on topics including opioid substitution, pain management, arthritic and neuropathic pain, sleep, and anxiety.

Maridose will cultivate and work with cannabis, but it is not a cannabis corporation, according to Shain. He said that since it is a biotech research firm, it is unable to market cannabis to the general population.

Shain, who used to reside in Maine, said the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit program was one of the reasons he picked the state.

“It’s simply a terrific area to conduct business,” he added, citing the high quality of life and several incentives.

It’s been a long time coming. 

Maridose has been applying to the DEA for more than four years, and the government has indicated that it would extend its research cultivation program six years ago. 

Universities, research institutions, biotech startups, and other cannabis-related businesses were among the 37 applications. 

However, the DEA’s study expansion was put on hold soon after by then-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a vocal opponent of marijuana. At the time, it was unclear when or if the plans would be carried through. 

However, in 2019, the DEA began the process, notifying firms that had applied of any outstanding applications. Due to the large amount of applications, the agency indicated that it would need to draft new rules in order to accept them.

In December 2020, the new rules were published in the Federal Register. The DEA declared six months later, in May 2021, that it had given a memorandum of understanding to an undetermined number of producers with the intention of awarding a license. 

The University of Mississippi is now one of six institutions on the DEA’s list of certified “bulk manufacturer (marijuana) producers.” 

Maridose wants to be the next in line.

The number of licenses the DEA plans to issue is currently unknown. The EPA gave cost estimates for three and 15 locations in the Federal Register regulation, but did not commit to a specific number.

Those requesting authorisation must fulfill a number of requirements. The criteria include having enough measures in place to prevent cannabis from being diverted from research institutions to the illicit market, as well as the capacity to provide researchers with an adequate and consistent supply. 

The DEA prefers licensees to have prior experience dealing with prohibited narcotics, but it is wary of applicants who are producing or working with cannabis, even in states where it is legal. Although growing in a state market is legal, it is remains illegal under federal law.

Shain has said that he believes his affiliation with Tikun Olam provides him an edge in this regard.

Tikun Olam received Israel’s first authorization to cultivate and dispense medicinal cannabis in 2006. Researchers in the United States who use Maridose marijuana would have access to clinical data obtained by Tikun Olam’s marijuana’s 20,000 patients.

Increasing Research

When the DEA revealed its intentions to expand the program in 2016, there was already a surge in interest in cannabis research. Since then, the increasing tendency has only continued.

The FDA upped its marijuana production limit from 472 kilograms to 3,200 kilograms between 2017 and 2020, a 578 percent increase. During the same time period, the DEA increased the number of registered researchers by 60%, from 371 to 595.

According to the DEA, there are more researchers registered to study cannabis than any other Schedule 1 narcotic in the nation. It wouldn’t provide an updated figure for the number of registered researchers and wouldn’t specify how many were in Maine, although at least two are.

In 2015, University of Maine at Farmington biologist Jean Doty and chemist Terry Morocco joined the ranks of DEA-approved cannabis researchers for a four-year effort to create gene sequencing tests that identify medically beneficial cannabis strains early in plant development.

In 2015, the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health invested $111 million on cannabis research. After five years, the number had risen to $196 million. 

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