It appears that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will start issuing marijuana research licenses next year. The new license would allow production, processing and possession of marijuana for limited research purposes. Per state statute, these research purposes are limited to the following:
- To test chemical potency and composition levels;
- To conduct clinical investigations of marijuana-derived drug products;
- To conduct research on the efficacy and safety of administering marijuana as part of medical treatment; and
- To conduct genomic or agricultural research.
Research licensees must meet the general licensing qualifications found in WAC 314-55-020 (including residency) and will be required to undergo criminal background checks and financial investigations. Research license applicants will also need to submit a research plan describing the purposes and goals of their proposed project, background studies, anticipated costs, key personnel, facilities, equipment and other resources required for the project. The application process and submittal requirements are set forth in the proposed rules here. The state will be designating a scientific reviewer to review research applications and recommend approval or denial.
There will likely be interest in this research license from both the scientific and business communities. Laboratories already conducting other types of medical and/or plant research will presumably apply. The research license may also assist licensed marijuana businesses in developing new plant strains and processes. Licensed marijuana producers and processors who wish to obtain a research license will need to ensure that marijuana grown/processed for research purposes is kept wholly separate from that grown/processed for commercial operations. Research marijuana must not be comingled or diverted to marijuana grown for commercial purposes.
Issuance of research licenses is another step in the right direction for the marijuana industry in Washington State. Given the incoming U.S. Presidential Administration, however, Washington State will be under even more pressure to ensure that no marijuana from its licensees ends up on the black market. Thus, look for increased scrutiny in regard to security requirements and oversight of these licenses. The LCB is taking comment on the proposed rules until December 28, 206, more information on where to submit comments can be found here.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.