Despite the DEA’s failure to reclassify cannabis, Washington state is moving forward with plans to allow private companies to conduct scientific research on the plant, the News Tribune reports. Officials expect to begin accepting license applications for the program in January.

Republican State Sen. Ann Rivers, who sponsored a bill to move the plan forward, said the information gleaned from the study could be used by legislators to create policy. Discoveries made in the program could be applied directly to the state’s medical and recreational markets.

“The importance of it really hit home when the DEA decided not to reschedule medical marijuana because, they said, ‘we just don’t have enough research,’” she said in the report.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board is currently setting up a review panel for the scientific applications. The panel will include officials from Washington State University and the University of Washington who will evaluate the efficacy of the proposals, and whether applicants have the experience and facilities to carry out the research.

Jessica Tonani, CEO of Seattle-based research firm Verda Bio, is interested in selectively breeding cannabis plants based on the cannabinoids they contain and has lobbied the state to add a research license for years.

“Is there a clinical profile that is best for MS patients, or cancer patients, or helps take away patients’ pain?” she asked. “To do that we need to do selective breeding and then get those out in the population to monitor those effects.”

Once rolled out, the license program would be the first of its kind in the country. Oregon is considering a similar program, but it has yet to be implemented.

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