"[Marijuana] can be legally purchased for recreational use in four states and sold for medicinal purposes in two dozens others, but researchers who want to conduct federally approved clinical trials can only use pot purchased from the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose lone supplier is the University of Mississippi.
Despite the DEA's 2014 decision to increase the amount of pot the government makes available — the government ordered 650 kilos — scientists continue to gripe that they can't get the marijuana the need in a timely fashion.
After members of Congress echoed the supply concerns in public hearings, the DEA responded by showing a ledger of the university's inventory, organized by the potency of each strain. The university's growing program has more than 130,000 "marijuana cigarettes" available at varying potencies, according to the memo. On top of that, it has 185 "batches" of bulk marijuana in quantities ranging between just a few ounces and more than 20 pounds.
The disconnect seems to be a question of quality versus quantity.
The primary psychoactive compound that gives marijuana it's euphoric oomph is called Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The more THC, generally, the stronger the buzz.
The most powerful strain on the DEA ledger, a "reprocessed" batch numbered 1304-1, tops out at 13.7 percent THC. Most batches in the "high THC" section of the inventory are less than 8 percent.
The University of Mississippi's supply is essentially stuck in the 1970s, when THC content rarely broke the double digits.
Compare that to the potency available at dispensaries in Colorado, which recently legalized recreation pot. Having had years to experiment in medical marijuana industry, which has been legal for more than a decade, horticulturalists there have produced varieties packing 30 percent THC or more. The average THC level in retail stores is 18.7 percent, according to a state-sponsored study."