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The powdery green substance Dr. Sue Sisley uses for medical marijuana research bears little resemblance to the plush flower buds people buy at dispensaries or on the street.

It comes from the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, the only source of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana and marijuana-derived materials available through the National Institute for Drug Abuse’s Drug Supply Program. 

“It’s not like I can go to another dispensary and buy it; I can’t,” said Sisely of the Arizona-based Scottsdale Research Institute, who has studied the use of marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and opioid addiction. “That’s my only legal drug supply.

“It’s like a green talcum powder with very little aroma, and visible stems, sticks, seeds, lots of extraneous plant material,” she added.  “It’s moldy … (and) it doesn’t come close to representing potencies in the real world.”

Limited access to government-approved marijuana is one of several regulatory barriers to marijuana research. 

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