DEA Pushing to Approve More Research Cannabis Cultivators
The Scientist reports that since 36 states have legalized medical marijuana and 17 permit adult use, the DEA is finally considering enhancing the research grows. Since 1968, researchers have been limited as they study marijuana’s impact – the only legal supplier of the plant has been the University of Mississippi. But that’s about to change.
The DEA recently announced that it had sent memorandums of agreement (MOAs) to cultivators interested in growing cannabis for research purposes. Through these MOAs, the DEA has outlined “the means by which the applicant and DEA will work together to facilitate the production, storage, packing, and distribution of marijuana under the new regulations.”
This is exciting news as it will expand the scientific research as it pertains to real-world cannabis.
“We were euphoric. This is a victory for scientific freedom. It’s finally a chance to use real-world cannabis in our own studies and supply genetically diverse cannabis to scientists across the nation,” Sue Sisley, the president and principal investigator at the Scottsdale Research Institute, explained to Science.
Researchers have been dealing with sub-par cannabis from the University of Mississippi for decades. While some people don’t see this as an issue, the idea of additional suppliers is still a welcomed addition to the scientific community.
“Older people are not going to smoke . . . They will take a brownie, a gummy. New manufacturers could give us those products,” says Igor Grant, the director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego. “What’s needed is more product and more diversity.”
This action from the DEA was long-awaited. Back in 2016, the agency said it planned to start accepting applications for new marijuana cultivators for research. However, some opposition existed from officials in President Trump’s tenure – namely, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who believed that this could violate a United Nations treaty against drug trafficking. This stalled the application process for years.
Now, with this announcement, we expect some progress. The DEA’s new announcement doesn’t indicate the number of MOAs it sent out. However, the Journal outlines three organizations that have received them.
“To the extent these MOAs are finalized, DEA anticipates issuing DEA registrations to these manufacturers. Each applicant will then be authorized to cultivate marijuana –– up to its allotted quota –– in support of the more than 575 DEA-licensed researchers across the nation,” according to the agency’s recent announcement.