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Risks Associated with
Cannabis Research

Some of these outside work activities, though legal under California state law, may not be allowable under federal law without a Schedule I DEA license and fulfillment of other federal requirements. In such circumstances, UC faculty and staff should be aware that they are assuming the same risks as any other California state private citizen who chooses to engage in such activities. Also, because of UC’s obligation to comply with federal laws, UC faculty and staff engaging in activities which are not allowed under federal law should make no use of UC resources (not even the usually permissible de minimis or incidental and occasional personal use of UC resources).

Finally, UC faculty and staff should make it clear to all parties that they are conducting such activities as private citizens, not as UC faculty or staff. Though they may identify themselves as holding a UC position, there should be clear and consistent statements such as:

“This work was performed as a private individual, not as a UC faculty member. No UC resources, facilities, or funds were used. No UC employees or students participated in this research in their roles as a UC employee or student.”

UC researchers choosing to pursue funding opportunities related to cannabis should consider and address the following issues before applying for or accepting marijuana-related funding:

  • Source of funding: Before applying for and before accepting research funding that comes directly from individuals or entities (e.g., companies, associations) whose funding is derived from the cannabis industry (for example, from a professional association of cannabis growers legally licensed in the state of California) campuses must contact the UC Office of the President’s Research and Graduate Studies Office, which may seek advice from the Office of General Counsel as needed. In evaluating requests to accept funding from such sources, a significant consideration is the need to comply with applicable money laundering laws and laws re: aiding/abetting illegal activities.
  • Research activities. Research with cannabis must comply with the guidelines and procedures described above in this Guidance.
  • Mechanism of Funding. The UC campus Sponsored Projects offices (SPO) are the only UC campus entities authorized to submit or negotiate proposals to external sponsors for possible contracts, grants or cooperative agreements. The SPO will ensure that each proposal meets the requirements of the University, sponsor and applicable federal and state rules and regulations. Funders who prefer to use the gift mechanism work with UCLA Foundation and development offices.