A farm at the University of Mississippi is the one place in the country where you can grow marijuana legally, according to the federal government.
Here are four quick facts about Uncle Sam’s private stash:
1. It’s been around as long as the War on Drugs.
Credit: AFP/Getty Images
The University of Mississippi was selected as a research site by the federal government in 1968, three years before Nixon called drug abuse "public enemy number one in the United States."
Since then, it’s been the only place where pot can be grown legally, and has served for government research. Weed grown at Ole Miss is also distributed by the government to four medical marijuana patients, the last remaining participants in a small federal program that stopped accepting new patients in 1992.
The university was contracted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to run the facility. (DO we know why them? Just wondering if there’s a reason.)
2. The place is on lockdown
One of the fields at Ole Miss, with a security tower. (Credit: University of Mississippi)
No late-night reefer raids in this place. An article in USA Today said “the entire complex is surrounded by multiple guard towers, two enormous barbed wire fences and countless security cameras.” The weed itself is kept in what CNN described as a “climate-controlled vault.”
3. The same guy has run the program since 1981
Someone handling pot at the university facility. (Credit: University of Mississippi)
Mahmoud ElSohly is the director of university’s “Marijuana Project” and oversees the pot farm.
He believes that some chemicals in marijuana have a medicinal value but doesn’t think the plant should be legal.
“People just use that as a way of having access to the drug, not really because they have a medical condition that can benefit from marijuana,” Dr. ElSohly told WTVA in April.
4. They claim to have tested some extremely potent pot
An image of a Marijuana Project grow room. (Credit: University of Mississippi)
Marijuana potency is determined by the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that’s in the drug.
ElSohly told CNN in August that the average potency for marijuana tested at Ole Miss was 13 percent but that they’d tested strains that went as far as 37 percent.
High Times magazine, which hosts international competitions for the most potent strains of weed, was incredulous when the stat aired in a recent documentary.
“No strain we’ve had tested ever came close to 30 percent THC,” Senior Cultivation Editor Danny Danko wrote on their site. “So, we’d like to challenge the University of Mississippi to reveal the method and results of their testing (or at least tell us the name of the strain with 37 percent THC so that we can, um… further study it).”
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.