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Feds Release Details About Contract To Roll Thousands Of Marijuana Joints

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There are just a few weeks left to send in an application to become a federally contracted preparer and distributor of research-grade marijuana.

And if a prospective applicant is still on the fence, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) rolled out a 138-page solicitation notice last week that details all of the tasks the contractor will have to complete, including rolling thousands of “standardized marijuana cigarettes.”

The contract is meant to support NIDA’s research into the risks and benefits of various controlled substances and will last for five years starting in September, with the successful awardee receiving anywhere from $50,000 to nearly $20 million to get the job done.

There have been plenty of jokes about the opening, with some people volunteering for the job after media reports about it went viral. But in all seriousness, the criterion to receive the contract is strict. Individuals must be authorized to handle Schedule I drugs, pass a background check and have a facility that can adequately store and secure the research drug products. They must also be equipped to conduct thorough analyses on the substances’ purity, stability and dosage forms.

The selected contractor is barred from using “contract funds to support activities that promote the legalization of any drug or other substance included in schedule I of… the Controlled Substances Act, except for normal and recognized executive-congressional communications,” according to the notice.

That requirement isn’t necessarily imposed because the role involves working with controlled substances, though. Among other other general congressionally mandated riders attached to research contracts are bans on using funds “to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography” or “to advocate or promote gun control.”

In any case, rolling thousands of joints is in fact a big part of the job. But just so you know, the contractor is explicitly prohibited from consuming any “material developed, modified, or delivered by or to the Government under this contract, or any subsequent modification of such material.”

NIDA outlines all of the various tasks required under the contract in a lengthy documents, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Manufacture, analyze, store, and ship marijuana cigarettes as required by NIDA
  • Acquire hard-to-find controlled and uncontrolled bulk drugs, and other chemical compounds of interest from DEA, commercial sources (including import from international sources), or any other source as required by NIDA.
  • Analyze cannabis materials and their preparations, such as Δ8 -tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8-THC), Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), cannabidiol, cannabichromene, cannabinol, and Δ9 -THC acids and determine their relative ratios in such preparations.
  • Develop and produce standardized reconstituted cannabis preparations, such as delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9 -THC), cannabis extract, cannabinoid parenteral, or any other dosage forms.
  • Prepare reference standards for qualitative and quantitative identification of cannabinoids and other drugs of abuse, prepare quantitative reference standards of cannabinoids and other drugs in serum or urine, and assess the stability of these preparations
  • Serve as NIDA’s drug repository, store controlled and uncontrolled drugs and other research chemical compounds, drug dosage forms, and marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes in proper storage conditions, such as in a secure, DEA approved vault, and in appropriate freezers as necessary
  • Determine the purity and stability of bulk drugs and other chemical compounds in the NIDA drug supply inventory periodically, or as required by the NIDA Contracting Officer’s Representative
  • Maintain active inventory of all required bulk drugs and other chemical compounds for research purposes
  • Store and ship bulk drugs and other chemical compounds for research as required by NIDA

Why is NIDA undertaking this contract? According to the agency, there has been a spike in demand for research-grade drug materials due to a “combination of factors, such as increased regulatory requirements that tend to discourage commercial availability and rapidly expanding research efforts in the area of drug abuse.”

“Therefore, the National Institute on Drug Abuse acquires, prepares/manufactures, analyzes, stores, bulk chemicals, drug dosage forms, including marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes, and makes them available to researchers for drug abuse and related research,” NIDA wrote.

The demand for marijuana is especially high. A sample of the task at hand calls for the manufacturing of joints of varying potency:

  • For proposal purposes, manufacture the following:
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Placebo (THC content, 0.0%)
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Low (THC content, 1.0-2.5%)
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Medium (THC content, 2.5 – 3.5%)
    50,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, High (THC content, 3.5 – 5.0%)
  • For proposal purposes, manufacture the following:
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Placebo (CBD content, 0.0%)
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Low (CBD content, 1.0-2.5%)
    25,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, Medium (CBD content, 2.5 – 3.5%)
    50,000 Standardized marijuana cigarettes, High (CBD content, 3.5 – 7.0%)
  • For proposal purposes, manufacture the following (by hand rolling):
    Produce 1,000 standardized marijuana cigarettes containing a high concentration of delta-9- THC, or cannabidiol (CBD) or both (greater than 5.0%) or as required by the NIDA COR.

It’s not exactly clear what’s behind the hand-rolling specification in the last bullet point above.

The deadline to submit applications is May 24, and contractors’ personnel must be prepared to pass background checks.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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