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Cannabis Academic Research Grants

Cannabis Academic Research Grants

As of July 2022, 37 states allow medical-use, and 19 states allow adult-use of cannabis. Despite changes in state policy, cannabis is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. This limits research opportunities and our collective understanding of cannabis and its effects. 

Funding opportunity

DCC is seeking proposals for research projects that advance public understanding of cannabis and effects of legalization. Researchers at California public universities are eligible to apply. Up to $20 million in grants will be awarded. 

Through this RFP, DCC seeks to: 

  • Expand academic knowledge of cannabis
  • Gain insight into how government policy decisions impact individuals, communities and equity
  • Support government officials in fact-based policymaking

It is the Department’s hope that the research resulting from these grants will advance the body of scientific knowledge about cannabis and prove beneficial not only to California policymakers, but also to those across the nation and world.

Priority research topics

DCC is prioritizing the funding of research topics that advance California’s understanding of cannabis, address research gaps and inform policymakers.

The prioritized topics would examine: 

  • The health of the cannabis industry
  • California’s legacy genetics
  • Cannabinoids and potency
  • Monopolies and unfair competition
  • Medicinal use of cannabis 

These topics support areas of key importance for ensuring a balanced and successful implementation of cannabis legalization – from economic vitality to public health to preservation of the state’s cannabis heritage.

DCC will consider for funding all research proposals that address topics that fall within the scope of Revenue and Taxation section 34019 to further public understanding of the effects of cannabis legalization. 

How to apply for grant funding

  1. Read the Request for Proposals (RFP).
    The RFP document has detailed information about the grant and application instructions.
  2. Submit questions to DCC.
    Questions about the grant were accepted until October 14, 2022.
  3. Read the Q&A.
    Read the answers to the submitted questions.
  4. Submit your grant proposal.
    Submit your grant proposal starting on November 1, 2022, until 11:59 p.m. on December 22, 2022. Email all application documents to

Grant documents

Request for Proposals (RFP) – Describes grant eligibility, application requirements and anticipated contract terms.

Questions and Answers

Application documents

Include the following documents with your grant application: 


(Dates are tentative and may be modified)
Request for Proposals PublishedOctober 5, 2022
Questions Due
  • Grant applicants or interested parties may submit questions by 11:59 p.m. on this date.
October 14, 2022
Questions and Answers Posted
  • DCC posted answers to questions submitted during the Questions and Answers period.
October 31, 2022
Application Submission Period OpensNovember 1, 2022
Last Day to Submit Applications
  • Applications may be submitted at any time prior to this date.
  • Grant applicants must submit applications by 11:59 p.m. on this date.
  • Technical assistance will be available until 4:00 p.m. on this date.
December 22, 2022
Grant Award NotificationFebruary 2023

About this funding

Proposition 64, the ballot initiative passed in 2016, created cannabis-specific taxes. A portion of these cannabis tax revenues are used to fund public health, environmental, criminal justice and research initiatives. $10 million is designated annually for California public universities to research and evaluate impacts of cannabis legalization. 

In 2020, the Bureau of Cannabis Control awarded nearly $30,000,000 for 34 research projects. Learn more about previously-funded projects.


For questions about the grant program, email

For media inquiries, email

Questions and answers


Who is eligible to apply for the Cannabis Academic Research Grant?

Applicants are limited to California public universities (the Universities of California and California State Universities), per Revenue and Taxation Code §34019(b).

We are a non-profit organization working with a University of California (UC) school. Are we eligible for funding?

Only California public universities are eligible to apply for and receive funding. However, nonprofits and other organizations can support research as subawardees.

Will DCC consider expanding eligibility to additional entities, such as testing laboratories or universities located outside of California?

DCC does not have the authority to expand applicant eligibility. Under California Revenue and Taxation Code §34019(b), the only eligible recipients of this grant funding are California public universities.

Who is eligible to serve as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI? Are postdoctoral fellows eligible for grant funding?

The grant funding contract is executed between DCC and the university, and applicants must submit an Institutional Cover Letter to demonstrate the university’s approval of the proposed research. Contact your affiliated university to determine if you would be eligible to serve as a PI.

Can an individual serve as a PI for more than one proposal or awarded project? Can individuals participate in multiple research projects (as co-PI, collaborator, or consultant)?

DCC has not set any restriction that would prevent a researcher’s participation in more than one project.

Can an individual submit multiple proposals?

Yes, applicants can submit more than one proposal. The research proposals must describe different projects, but the projects can be related or address different aspects of single priority research topic.

Are researchers with projects currently funded by DCC eligible for funding of a new proposal?

Researchers who have active grants with DCC are not prohibited from applying for this round of funding.

Can more than one California public university apply for and administer the grant for a single collaborative project?

DCC encourages collaboration between multiple universities. However, one university will need to serve as the designated applicant and, if awarded, would be considered the grantee for purposes of signing the grant agreement, receiving the disbursement of funds, and to ensure compliance with the grant agreement.

Eligible research topics

What topics are eligible for grant funding?

Any research that studies cannabis and the impacts of cannabis legalization is eligible for grant funding and will be considered.

California Revenue and Taxation Code §34019(b) defines eligible topics and includes examples. Within this scope of eligible topics, DCC has also identified priority research topics to assist researchers eager to help state cannabis leaders close gaps in knowledge in important and timely policy areas.

Will DCC consider proposals for projects that build upon previously-funded research?

DCC will consider proposals that will further expand knowledge and understanding of a previously-funded or ongoing research project. In order to be competitive, the proposal must describe how the proposed project will further expand upon the research already conducted.

Will DCC consider a proposal for a secondary analysis of a previously-funded project?

DCC will consider proposals for secondary analysis. In order to be competitive, the proposal should describe the secondary analysis in detail, how it is different from the initial analysis, and how the additional analysis will advance scientific knowledge of cannabis.

Can you assess our proposed research topic and provide feedback about DCC’s level of interest?

DCC will consider any proposal for research related to cannabis and impacts of cannabis legalization. Each proposal will be assessed on its own merits, utilizing the criteria outlined on pages 13-14 of the RFP. DCC cannot provide feedback outside of the application review process.

Are active (in process) research projects eligible for grant funding? What if the project has federal grant money?

There is no restriction that would prevent DCC from funding pre-existing or federally-funded projects. In order to be competitive, the grant proposal should describe in detail the additional work that would be done using the additional funding and how the inclusion of the additional funding will advance scientific knowledge of cannabis.

Priority research topics

Why is DCC identifying priority research topics, and how were these topics chosen?

DCC published the priority research topics, in part, because public university administrators expressed a desire for guidance about what specific areas of scientific study would be most helpful to the State given there are so many unexplored areas of research related to cannabis.

These priority topics do not replace the broader set of eligible topics identified in Revenue and Taxation Code §34019(b). Instead, the identification of research priorities provides additional direction to prospective grantees eager to help state cannabis leaders close gaps in knowledge in important and timely policy areas. These topics support areas of key importance for informing a balanced and successful implementation of cannabis legalization – from public health to economic vitality to preservation of the state’s cannabis heritage.

The priority research topics were developed with input from the various state departments and agencies that also have roles in cannabis oversight and were informed by public health experts, environmental scientists, and others.

Will proposals that do not fall into the priority research topics be considered?

Yes. DCC will consider any proposal for research related to cannabis and impacts of cannabis legalization.

Will proposals that include some, but not all, of the priority research topics be considered?

DCC is seeking a single research team for the “Health of the Cannabis Industry” priority topic. For other identified priority research topics, proposals that address only a portion of the research topic will be considered. However, topics such as California Legacy Genetics would benefit from engagement by multi-disciplinary researchers.

DCC strongly encourages applicants to consider assembling collaborative research teams that can comprehensively address the priority research topic. If a university is comprised of multiple researchers who each seek to address different components of the project, the proposal would be strengthened if the researchers submitted a unified proposal and plan for coordinated work.

Can multiple investigators from the same institution submit applications for the same priority research topic?

DCC anticipates that multiple submissions for each priority research topic will be submitted. There is no restriction on multiple submissions from the same university, either as stand-alone proposals or submitted in coordination. However, due to the limited amount of funding available, it is likely that not every project will receive funding.

California Legacy Genetics & Genetic Sequencing: Can the grant application deadline be extended to allow additional time for the development of a culturally-sensitive outreach and engagement plan?

The outreach plan is not required to be submitted at the time of application. Proposals submitted in response to the California Legacy Genetics topic must describe how the culturally-sensitive outreach plan will be developed.

Medicinal Use of Cannabis: How is “qualified patient” defined?

“Qualified Patient” includes both patients who have received a Medical Marijuana Identification Card issued by the California Department of Public Health, as well as those who have received a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis for medical purposes.

Application requirements

What supporting documents must be submitted with the application?

Application requirements are described in the RFP on pages 9-12. The application must include:

  • Application Cover Sheet (Form DCC-2617)
  • Attachment A: Scope of Work (Form DCC-2618)
  • Attachment B: Deliverables and Data Usage (Form DCC-2619)
  • Attachment C: Key Personnel (Form DCC-2620)
  • Attachment D: Budget (Form DCC-2621)
  • Institutional Cover Letter, signed by the University’s Authorized Official

Applicants must use the DCC-provided forms for all application components except the institutional cover letter. Form templates can be downloaded from the DCC website.

When is the institutional cover letter required?

The institutional cover letter is required at the time the application is submitted.

When and where should the request for a funding term longer than 2 years be made?

The request for a grant term longer than two years must be included in the application on the Application Cover Sheet form.

Does the four-page limit for the Scope of Work include references/citations?

The four-page Scope of Work must include all information the applicant wishes to be considered by the review committee.

Applicants may include a separate bibliography/citation document, which includes a list of references and/or links to cited articles, if desired. However, this should not include added narrative or be used as a venue to expand beyond the four-page limit.

The review committee might only review and consider the information contained directly within four-page Scope of Work when scoring the proposal. Therefore, applicants should include any information critical to assessing the application directly in the four-page Scope of Work.

Application scoring and review

How will DCC assess the submitted proposals? / Who will conduct the review?

Research proposals will be reviewed for eligibility, project readiness and merit of the research concept. The criteria that will be considered is detailed on pages 12-14 in the RFP.

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprised of DCC subject matter experts, policy and scientific staff, and executive leadership, as well as staff from other California state departments and agencies with expertise on the proposed topic area.

How much funding do you anticipate allocating for research outside of the priority research topics?

Funding will be dependent on the number of research proposals received and the funding requested.


How should the Indirect Cost Rate be calculated?

The indirect costs should be calculated in accordance with the California Model Agreement, executed grant agreement and any specific requirements of your university.

Can researchers provide stipends to research participants (individuals or licensed cannabis businesses)?

DCC does not prohibit grant funds from being used for stipends, such as those provided in exchange for survey or experiment participation, provided that the issuance of the stipend follows applicable California state laws and university research requirements. All expenditures, including any proposed stipend, must be accounted for and justified using the budget forms.

Subawardees (subcontractors, consultants, and independent contractors)

What is the difference between subawardees, subcontractors, consultants, and independent contractors?

The California Model Agreement defines these terms as follows:

Subawardee includes subrecipient, subcontractor, consultant and independent contractor.

  • Subrecipient (Subcontractor): A collaborating entity of the University that is responsible for programmatic decision making and completing a portion of the Scope of Work.
  • Consultant: An independent consultant is an individual not employed by the University of proven professional or technical competence who provides primarily professional or technical advice to the University and the University does not control the manner, means or methods of performance.
  • Independent Contractor: An independent entity performing work for the University, where the University has the right to control only the result of the service, not the manner or performance.

Can an entity serve as a subawardee for multiple projects?

Nothing restricts an entity from serving as a subawardee for multiple projects.

Can subawardees based outside of California be used?

There is no requirement that collaborators must be located within California. Researchers should follow the requirements of the California Model Agreement and executed grant agreement, as well as any requirements of their institution, in determining appropriate partners.

Can the university utilize a cannabis business as a subawardee?

There is no prohibition on partnering with licensed cannabis businesses, provided that all components of the application explaining subawardee roles are completed in detail, and the subcontract follows all requirements of the California Model Agreement, executed grant agreement and the university.

What type of documentation is required for collaborations with the cannabis industry?

Subawardees must be identified and their roles described using the Scope of Work and Budget forms. A copy of the agreement between the university and the subawardee will also be requested if the proposed project is chosen for funding.

Grant amendments

Could the grant timeframe be extended if funds remain after the anticipated two-year grant term?

Grantees may request no-cost contract extensions, with justification, through the grant amendment process. Requests for extensions will be considered but are not guaranteed.


Will the university have opportunity to negotiate specific terms of the contract?

It is DCC’s intention to adhere as closely as possible to the California Model Agreement, with the inclusion of amendments noted in the appendixes of the RFP. Further amendments may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis if strictly necessary. In order to ensure timely execution of the grant agreement, DCC recommends that an applicant requesting amendments to the terms and conditions in the California Model Agreement and RFP note the request in the application.

What exhibits will be included in the contract?

After grants are awarded, the researcher’s application materials will be used to complete the California Model Agreement exhibits. These exhibits will become part of the signed grant agreement (contract).

When would Exhibit E (Special Considerations for Security of Confidential Information) be used?

Exhibit E applies when the research project utilizes confidential information, as defined in the California Model Agreement. This includes any confidential, non-public information provided by DCC to the researcher in support of their funded research project.

Use of data and data requests

Can the research utilize data sets that include people outside of California?

There is no specific requirement that datasets be limited to California participants or that data collection be limited to California participants, provided that the data collection meets all other requirements of the California Model Agreement and executed grant agreement.

Are there guidelines for data ownership, use and sharing for DCC-funded projects?

The California Model Agreement and Exhibit E, outlined in the RFP, includes terms and conditions for data ownership, data sharing, and confidentiality.

Can DCC provide academic researchers data from the seed-to-sale tracking system?

DCC-licensed cannabis businesses track inventory and movement of cannabis, from seed to sale, using the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace (CCTT) system. Data contained within CCTT is confidential and not subject to Public Records Act requests but may be provided to grantees in support of academic research projects.

DCC will evaluate requests from grantees for CCTT or other non-public data on a case-by-case basis. Grantees submitting data requests should be prepared to:

  • Clearly communicate the specific questions that the researcher is trying to answer with the data
  • Explain how the data request is directly relevant to and supports the approved research scope

Grantees approved to receive data will be required to maintain the security and confidentiality of the data, as described in Exhibit E included in Appendix B of the RFP.

Can DCC provide city-level cannabis policies? / Can DCC publish information about cannabis taxes collected by city or county?

Grantees may request existing DCC data for purposes of supporting their approved research project, but DCC cannot conduct additional research on a grantee’s behalf.

DCC currently maintains a public webpage with information about city and county decisions to allow or prohibit specific types of cannabis activity:

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) publishes aggregated cannabis tax revenue information on their website:

For information collected by other state agencies, including additional data about cannabis tax collections, please contact those agencies directly.

Use of cannabis in research

Can grant funding be used to purchase cannabis from California dispensaries instead of using NIDA-approved sources?

DCC does not prohibit the use of grant funds for activities legally allowed by California state law, including the purchase of cannabis from licensed retailers. However, based on the specific type of research conducted and the location where it may be conducted, federal laws or university policies may prohibit such acts. Contact your affiliated university for specific information on which requirements apply to the use of cannabis for your proposed research project.

Does research on CBD also need to include THC?

Research proposals must, under Revenue and Taxation Code §34019(b), investigate cannabis and implementation of cannabis legalization. Proposals that only study industrial hemp will not be considered for funding.


When is the earliest available start date for approved projects?

Grantees may begin to expend funds upon execution of the grant agreement.

Where can we find research manuscripts from the previously-funded projects?

All of the existing DCC-funded studies are currently in progress. Final research manuscripts will be published on the DCC website when available.