Ole Miss Has a Cannabis Program: Here’s Why

Written by Ben Fitzsimmons

The Origins of the Program

The University of Mississippi has grown a lot of cannabis for a long time. Ole Miss first started officially growing cannabis in 1968. The program began when Dr. Coy Waller got the school a contract with the federal government. This contract consisted of the university growing cannabis for research purposes only. In the beginning, it was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) but eventually became funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA still funds it today. The contract for this program expires every three to five years and the market for it is quite competitive. Ole Miss has always kept the contract, though, and continues to go strong today. The program provides “pharmaceutical-grade marijuana and marijuana-derived materials to NIDA’s Drug Supply Program.”


A New Addition

Recently, in 2022, Ole Miss built a new center for cannabis research. This new center will conduct “research, data analysis, education, and training on the health effects of cannabis.” This new addition is part of the university’s School of Pharmacy and will contribute to its long history of cannabis research, detailed above. With all the research Ole Miss has done on cannabis throughout the years, it appears the largest function of this new center is educating and training individuals on the actual health effects cannabis can have.

The research that Ole Miss has done over the years has resulted in scientific articles covering plant science and “plant biotechnology.” This research has been a cornerstone in the US’s understanding of cannabis, cannabis-based products, and the medical effects of both on the human body.


Compassionate IND Program

The compassionate IND program was an initiative officially run by the United States Federal Government. It allowed a very limited number of patients to use cannabis for medical purposes, despite cannabis being branded as a schedule I drug, devoid of medicinal properties. The cannabis used was grown at the University of Mississippi and the program is managed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 1992, the George H.W. Bush administration shut the program down. The participants still in the program were grandfathered in and allowed to continue. The program started because a gentleman named Robert Randall was arrested for growing cannabis for his glaucoma. He proved to the federal government that it was medicine for him, and subsequently, the government provided him access to free cannabis joints through this program. Although the cannabis grown at Ole Miss has been descrbied as ditchweed, the fact remains that our government provided medical cannabis to select people starting in 1976.

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Ben Fitzsimmons

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