DEA confirms plans to expand marijuana research, ending years of waiting

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DEA confirms plans to expand marijuana research, ending years of waiting

26 September 2019

The federal government is taking major steps in improving legal marijuana access for scientific and medical researchers. This also comes after the Justice Department announcing on Monday that actions are underway for the long-delayed applications in regards to the expansion of marijuana growing bey certified entities. 

The DEA quickly responded two days before the lawsuit deadline that was filed by the researchers. The Drug Enforcement Administration through the Federal Register, filed a notice acknowledging receiving several applications from potential growers. Uttam Dhillon, who is the DEA Acting Administrator, stated that the agency has plans to register more marijuana growers in regards to the federally authorized research. This comes with plans to work side by side with other important federal agencies to rush the next steps. 

Besides, they further confirmed that plans are underway to add new growers before deciding on the pending applications. The Attorney General William Barr has firmly supported this move. Barr stated that he was happy that DEA is finally taking steps towards the application review of growers who would love to grow marijuana in support of researchers legally. The University of Mississippi has been given the contract to supply all the marijuana to be used by the federally approved researchers. 

In 2016, the DEA said that it would approve applications to increase the number of legalized entities to plan marijuana for research purposes. This brought the number to about 33 entities, which includes universities and companies applying. Nonetheless, the agency didn’t review or took time to acknowledge the applications for many years, ignoring the federal statute laws that give them 90 days to respond. This has led to a series of lawsuits by different stakeholders, including the Scottsdale Research institute that is based in Phoenix. 

The Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) principal investigation Dr. Sue Sisley said that there has been an increase in poor-quality cannabis, which in turn is a bad thing for future research. Earlier this year the principal investigator finished the first of its kind randomized whole-plant cannabis trial to cure post-traumatic stress disorder using cannabis ordered from the Mississippi University. She confirmed that during the sample tests, the results were worrying because most of the samples were contaminated with mold while others had leaves and stems infused in the samples. 

Dr. Sisley, in an interview, said that there are different cannabis phenotypes circulating in the market that is regulated and the black market which raises the quality question. She further said that scientists are eager to work with what patients use out there to confirm the patients’ claims of transformative changes with cannabis. Marijuana research support has been increasing in the past few years. A group of bipartisan lawmakers even urged the DEA through letters to hasten the outstanding application’s row. Nonetheless, the Monday’s announcement by the DEA was positively welcomed by Sisley stating that it was the right move towards a positive direction. 

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