The legal and regulatory landscape for both marijuana and industrial hemp research is complicated and continually evolving. Changes in California laws have decriminalized the sale, possession, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana. Federal law, however, still classifies marijuana and its compounds as Schedule I controlled substances regulated under the Controlled Substances Act. This conflict and other inconsistencies between federal and state regulations mean that federal law guides UC policies regarding research on and use of cannabis.

The guidance documents listed below summarize applicable laws, regulations, and UC policies related to marijuana and industrial hemp research.

Policy Guidance on Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Research at UC Davis

Industrial hemp (<0.3% THC)

  1. Do not need a DEA Schedule I registration for research projects
  2. May consider accepting research funding (not tied to cannabis industry)
  3. Research involving human or animal subjects remain subject to FDA requirements.
  4. Can analyze in laboratory
  5. Can provide advice to hemp growers in compliance with federal and state law
  6. Can cultivate under specific conditions:
    1. Ensure that individuals participating in cultivation do not have felony convictions for controlled substances. 
    2. Maintain relevant information regarding the land on which hemp is to be grown for three years;
    3. Obtain seeds or cultivars certified to contain no more than 0.3% THC (importing from abroad, under a DEA import registration, is a clearly permissible avenue for obtaining viable industrial hemp seed and cultivars)
    4. A procedure for on-going testing of THC concentration levels of the hemp produced
    5. A procedure for effective disposal of plants, growing or not, and their derivatives, that exceed 0.3% concentration of THC.
    6. Notify county ag commissioner prior to cultivation, provide specified info
    7. Adequate signage indicating industrial hemp <0.3% THC
  7. May consider partnering with private hemp growers. UCOP advises campuses to evaluate risks on a case-by-case basis and to coordinate with campus counsel as appropriate. 

Cannabis (>0.3% THC)

  1. Must obtain DEA Schedule I registration for research projects
  2. Must obtain cannabis from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), produced at University of Mississippi.
  3. Must obtain approval from Research Advisory Panel in CA Attorney General’s Office
  4. Must obtain approval from FDA for clinical and non-clinical research
  5. Cannot accept research funding from individuals or entities that directly obtain most of their revenue from the cannabis industry
  6. May consider accepting research funding from individuals or entities that directly obtain some revenue from cannabis but also have separately identifiable revenue streams not tied to cannabis
  7. May consider accepting research funding from individuals or entities that are indirectly tied to cannabis (e.g., a company that provides lighting to indoor cannabis business)
  8. Can analyze cannabis plants, seeds, extracts via UC Davis agreement with Biopharmaceutical Research Company (analysis must be at BRC lab, which has received DEA Analytical Registration)
  9. May conduct cannabis research that does not involve the direct use, possession, distribution, or cultivation of cannabis (e.g., surveying individuals who use cannabis, analyzing public records).
  10. Faculty conducting outside work not allowable under federal law would accept the risk as private citizens, would not be allowed to use UC resources and must make clear in publications that the work was not done with UC resources.