An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
It's Spokane Public Radio's Spring Fund Drive. Power SPR with your donation and help us reach our $100k goal! Thank you!
News about the legal Washington State industry & public concerns.

Washington Grants First Cannabis Research License

Forbes magazine


A Washington laboratory has been granted the first cannabis research license in the state.

Verda Bio Research in Seattle has been granted a license to produce marijuana for study.

Verda CEO Jessica Tonani says it’s a big deal, as very little research is done anywhere in the U.S. on different properties of cannabis.

She says her company wants to focus on compounds besides THC, the drug that gets you high.

“Most of the plants out in the market today produce THC. A number of other plants produce small amounts of other compounds. And so our goal is to breed these plants to produce the other compounds besides THC. And once the plants produce those chemicals we can isolate them and research what they do,” said Tonani.

She says the first phase of the research will be the breeding of various strains that contain the six or seven compounds, including CBD, the compound that is finding favor in treating many ailments, including seizures.

Eventually the company plans lab research on tissue cultures to see how they react to those compounds. The overall theme is to find compounds that promote health and wellness, or chemicals that could treat a specific disease or help deal with an issue like anxiety.

Tonani says she expects other labs may be granted similar licenses to study other aspects of cannabis.

“There is so much research that needs to be done. Everything from how you grow cannabis to what chemicals you should or should not be putting on it, to types of lights and how you use it. And so we hope other groups apply and come on board and answer some of these questions,” she said.

Tonani says, until now, the few researchers nationwide that are looking into cannabis have had to use marijuana produced at a federal facility in Mississippi that has very low potency, compared to the commercial strains that are available legally in several U.S states. She says very few researchers are allowed to participate in that program.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.