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Research Involving Cannabis, Hemp, and Marijuana

Cannabis-related research – including research involving marijuana and hemp – must conform to federal and state laws as well as University of Connecticut (“UConn”) policies.

Under the Federal 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill), hemp is no longer a controlled substance. Hemp is legally defined as Cannabis sativa L. that contains not more than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) content on a dry-weight basis.  The Farm Bill currently restricts the growing of hemp to states that have established a Hemp Research Pilot Program.

Connecticut recently established such a program with the passing of Public Act 19-3: “An Act Concerning a Pilot Program for Hemp Production.” This act established the state of Connecticut Hemp Research Pilot Program (HRPP) to support research that advances the Department of Agriculture's understanding of hemp agriculture at national, regional, and local levels.  This legislation sets the state requirements for hemp growers, processors, and manufacturers to obtain a license, and establishes requirements for licensing, testing, and inspection.  State requirements apply to the cultivation, processing, and manufacturing of hemp.  State requirements also apply to academic and scientific research, teaching, and testing involving hemp.

UConn researchers who wish to participate in the Connecticut’s HRPP must register through the University and follow University guidelines related to growing, processing, and manufacturing hemp.  For more information on registering through the University, email contact information to HempProgram@uconn.edu.  

Marijuana, including Cannabis sativa L. that contains more than 0.3% delta-9 THC, remains a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive status, under the Controlled Substances Act.  The possession, production, processing, sale, or growth of marijuana remains illegal under Federal law, except under special licensing requirements established by the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”).  Research with marijuana requires the researcher to have both a Federal Schedule I and a Connecticut Schedule II controlled substance license, and s/he may only receive marijuana from other DEA registrants or from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (“NIDA”) approved sources.  UConn researchers must also follow the University’s Controlled Substances Policy or the UConn Health Controlled Substances Policy.  For more information regarding marijuana research, contact HempProgram@uconn.edu.

FAQs

Who is the primary UConn point of contact for external relations issues and requests related to hemp and marijuana?

In the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Associate Vice President for Research Integrity and Regulatory Affairs is the primary UConn point of contact regarding hemp and marijuana. Questions regarding hemp and marijuana should be emailed to <a href="mailto:HempProgram@uconn.edu">HempProgram@uconn.edu</a>.

How do I register through the University in order to participate in the state program?

To register through the University, email contact information to <a href="mailto:HempProgram@uconn.edu">HempProgram@uconn.edu</a>. Registration will involve a criminal background check, designation of the location hemp will be grown or processed, and designation of the source of the hemp.

Can I grow or process hemp, or engage in manufacturing with hemp at UConn without registering?

No. Growing hemp, processing hemp, or engaging in manufacturing with hemp by an individual as part of their University responsibilities or position, as part of a University program, or in University facilities or on University land must register with the Connecticut through the University.

Can I have a personal hemp plant in my dorm room, office, or other location?

No. The University does not allow growing, processing, or use in manufacturing of hemp on any UConn campus or in any UConn facilities unless it has been registered with the state through the University.

Where can I find information regarding the Connecticut Hemp Research Pilot Program?

The <a href="https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/Regulatory/Regulatory/Hemp-Home-Page" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Connecticut Hemp Research Pilot Program</a> provides information on the state program.

Once the state has issued a license, what am I required to do as the project principle investigator?

Once issued a license, you must comply with the provisions of Public Act 19-3 (the “Public Act”), the federal act (as defined in the Public Act), and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (“DOAG”) Compliance Policy. As a condition of being granted a grower license, you, as the principle investigator and on-site manager listed on the license, and the University agree to the requirements listed below. Note that submissions and notifications must be made through the University:
1. Comply with instructions from the DOAG and law enforcement agencies;
2. Agree to pay DOAG applicable licensing and inspection fees;
3. Consent to entry onto, and inspection of all buildings, equipment, supplies, vehicles, and records located on this real property where hemp or plants or materials are located, or licensed to be located, by the commissioner, and law enforcement agencies, at any time, with or without cause, and with or without advance notice;
4. Comply with DOAG’s criminal history records check requirements; and
5. Consent to forfeit and destroy, without compensation:
a. Material found to have a THC content in excess of three-tenths percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis;
b. Hemp plants located in an area that is not licensed by the department; and
c. Hemp plants not accounted for in required reports for the department.
6. Notify the DOAG of all hemp growing, handling, and storage locations, including legal description and GPS coordinates in decimal degrees to the ten-thousandth place, and receive department approval for those locations prior to having hemp on those premises.
7. Submit a Site Modification Request Form, the appropriate fees based on the requested changes, and obtain prior written approval from the commissioner before implementing any change to the plot(s) stated in the grower license application.
8. Not grow, handle, or store hemp in any location(s) other than the location(s) listed in the grower license application.
9. Not interplant hemp with any other crop without express written permission from the DOAG.
10. Not apply and not allow anyone else to apply pesticide to hemp except by person(s) who hold a valid permit or certificate, if required, to apply pesticides in accordance with section 22a-54 of the Connecticut general statutes.
11. Comply with all legal requirements regarding minimum distances from certain structures, and outdoor recreational facilities.
12. Acknowledges that the risk of financial or other loss shall be borne solely by the License Holder.
13. Use a record keeping and product coding system for hemp to facilitate the effective tracking of hemp and hemp products. Such plot system shall be capable of tracing hemp placed into the wholesale or retail distribution chain back to the producing plot. Such records shall be maintained for a period of time that exceeds the expected shelf life of the hemp or five (5) years, whichever is longer. Records of hemp product coding and distribution shall be made available immediately upon request of the department or any law enforcement agency.
14. Ensure that any time hemp is in transit within Connecticut, a copy of the grower license, and certificate of analysis showing the sample to have a THC concentration at or below three-tenths (0.3) percent on a dry weight basis, shall be available for inspection upon the request of the commissioner or any law enforcement agency. In the event the hemp being transported is a hemp sample being transported to a laboratory, then the sample shall be contained in a sealed tamper evident sample package and accompanied by the department approved completed chain of custody form for hemp samples. The hemp sample label shall contain, at a minimum, the date and time the sample was collected, licensee name, licensee number, location where the sample originated, identification of the lot the sample represents and a sample identification number or laboratory accession number.
15. Upon request from the commissioner or a law enforcement agency, immediately produce a copy of his or her grower license for inspection.
16. Submit Planting Reports, Harvest/Destruction Reports, Production Reports, and other reports required by the commissioner, on or before the deadlines established in these regulations. These records shall be maintained for at least three (3) years after harvest or destruction of the hemp. These records shall be made available immediately upon request of the department or any law enforcement agency.
17. Scout and monitor plots for volunteer hemp plants and to destroy those volunteer hemp plants for three (3) years past the last date of planting reported to the department.
18. Not to rent land to cultivate hemp from any person who has a state or federal felony conviction for a controlled substance within 10 (ten) years of the date of this agreement.
19. Notify the department of any interaction with any law enforcement agency immediately by phone and follow-up in writing within three (3) calendar days of the occurrence.
20. Immediately notify the department and applicable law enforcement agency of any theft of hemp materials, whether growing or not.
21. Immediately notify the department and applicable law enforcement agency of any unauthorized cultivation of any plant, within each plot.
22. To destroy any hemp or cannabis that is obligated to be destroyed, only in accordance with state and federal law, and the department’s established procedures.
23. Acknowledge that failure to comply with terms and conditions established in the department’s Compliance Policy and any regulations shall constitute grounds for appropriate action, up to and including termination of the grower license and expulsion from the department’s program.
24. Acknowledge that a person who has been expelled from the program shall not be eligible to reapply to the program for a period of five (5) years from the date of expulsion.
25. Have read and understood the state and federal statutes and the department’s Compliance Policy and any regulations related to the conditional grower license that is being issued.
26. Understand the Commissioner shall revoke or terminate any conditional grower license, if the applicant’s or conditional licensee’s, (including signing authority and on-site manager) results do not meet the federal and state criminal history records check, or the requirements of the federal act, the Public Act and the Compliance Policy.

How should UConn researchers dispose of unwanted industrial hemp materials?

Currently, the only process for destruction of materials is burial or composting. Signed documentation of method of destruction, who destroyed the materials, and when the destruction occurred should be retained.

What is the definition of industrial hemp?

The definition of hemp under Connecticut and federal law is “a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.”

Is hemp different from marijuana?

Yes. Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis plant that are differentiated based on selective breeding. Hemp is bred for its fiber and seed oil. By both federal and state law, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. THC is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Marijuana is defined as cannabis that contains greater than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Schedule I controlled substances are subject to the most intense scrutiny by the DEA. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture regulates hemp cultivation. Under the U.S. Farm Bill and Connecticut’s Pilot Program, institutions of higher education like UConn have latitude to cultivate and research industrial hemp, including its constituent compounds, without a DEA Schedule I license.

Does hemp include extracts that include cannabidiol or other cannabinoids?

The key defining characteristic of hemp is that it is Cannabis sativa L. that does not include THC at a concentration of more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. If the extract meets that criterion, was lawfully grown in accordance with a state Pilot Program, and was processed in accordance with state law, then it would qualify for treatment as industrial hemp.

Can UConn researchers do hemp research under a DEA Schedule I registration?

No, a researcher may not perform research on hemp with a DEA Schedule I registration because hemp has been removed from the Federal Controlled Substances Schedule.

Can UConn researchers grow industrial hemp for research purposes?

Yes, but this requires registering through the University for a growers’ license from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

Where can UConn researchers obtain certified seed to grow hemp for research purposes?

UConn researchers should obtain certified hemp seed only from an agency authorized under the laws of a state, territory, or possession of the United States to officially certify hemp seeds and that has standards and procedures approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to assure the genetic purity and identity of the hemp seed certified. The seed must have a certificate or other instrument attesting to its genetic purity and identity.

Can UConn researchers obtain CBD (Cannabidiol) for research purposes?

A qualified yes. CBD and other materials derived from Hemp that contain a THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are not subject to the Controlled Substances Act if the materials are cultivated and processed pursuant to the U.S. Farm Bill and the Pilot Program. In addition, the sourcing party must be properly licensed (for cultivation/processing) with the state’s proper licensing authorities. Please contact HempProgram@uconn.edu before undertaking such research. They can alert researchers to any issues that may exist with sourcing and licensing requirements.

Can UConn researchers obtain hemp products from third parties for research purposes?

A qualified yes. Hemp materials and products (other than viable seeds) that contain a THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are not subject to the Controlled Substances Act <em>if</em> the materials and products are cultivated pursuant to the U.S. Farm Bill and the Pilot Program. In addition, the third party must be properly licensed with a State Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, and its activities must have a research purpose. Thus, a researcher is permitted to receive and perform research on such materials and products from parties with which it enters collaborative research-focused agreements.

Can UConn researchers perform hemp research funded by third party industries?

Yes, subject to certain UConn and Connecticut Department of Agriculture approvals. However, accepting funds coming from the marijuana industry or any business related to it is restricted due to current federal banking regulations.

Can UConn researchers perform hemp research in a paid or unpaid sabbatical situation in a foreign country whose laws permit industrial hemp research in any capacity?

Yes.

Can UConn researchers license intellectual property rights resulting from hemp research?

Yes.

Does the Connecticut Hemp Research Pilot Program allow research with marijuana?

No. Marijuana research is defined as research that involves the growth, production, procurement, administration, or use of marijuana. It does not refer to observational research for which the researcher does not grow, produce, procure, or administer marijuana. Marijuana has the same meaning as in the definition provided by Connecticut General Statues § 21a-240(29).

Marijuana is categorized as a Schedule I drug by the DEA under the federal Controlled Substances Act. This means that federal regulations do not permit the use, production, processing, sale, or growth of marijuana, except for medical or research use <strong>conducted under special licensing requirements established by the DEA</strong> and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for use with humans or animals. Typically, research conducted under a DEA license also requires sourcing the marijuana from the NIDA. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DoJ”) previous guidance indicating that it will not focus its prosecutorial resources on the sale or use of marijuana in states where a well-regulated legal framework has been established was rescinded in 2018. To date, no exemption from the federal regulations has been granted to any state.

UConn is the recipient of considerable federal funding for research, education, capital projects, and healthcare. Accepting this funding obligates UConn to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act. These federal regulations together prohibit UConn from unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of any controlled substance at the University. Unlike the DoJ’s stance on enforcement of DEA regulations, there has been no statement suggesting that enforcement of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act or the Drug-Free Workplace Act has been, or will be, relaxed.

Consequently, despite the state of Connecticut’s legalization of medical marijuana, there is no provision that allows for the legal research of medical marijuana except as already established and involving compliance with DEA, FDA, and NIDA policies and regulations.

Where can I find information about courses or programs at UConn related to hemp?

The UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources conducts courses related to hemp cultivation and production. Additional information can be found by searching the <a href="http://cag.uconn.edu/canr/index.php" rel="noopener" target="_blank">College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources web site.</a>

Is anyone at UConn involved in testing as part of the state Hemp Research Pilot Program?

The UConn Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering conducts testing as part of the Hemp Research Pilot Program. Additional information can be found on the <a href="https://cese.uconn.edu/hemp-initiative/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering web site</a> or by contacting the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering Laboratory Director, Christopher Perkins by either email (christopher.perkins@uconn.edu) or phone (860.486.2668).