A recent Federal Register filing by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could increase marijuana cultivation for research by five times. Currently, only 1,000 pounds of marijuana are cultivated in the U.S. for research purposes. But the new filing calls for an increase to 5,400 pounds.
The DEA wants to increase marijuana production and reduce it for opioids like morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to Forbes.
“We’ve lost too many lives to the opioid epidemic and families and communities suffer tragic consequences every day,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “This significant drop in prescriptions by doctors and DEA’s production quota adjustment will continue to reduce the amount of drugs available for illicit diversion and abuse while ensuring that patients will continue to have access to proper medicine.”
The amount of THC produced for research purposes will remain at 384,460 grams. The only government-approved marijuana cultivation facility in the U.S. is at the University of Mississippi. Dozens of additional cultivators have applied to grow marijuana for government research purposes, but Attorney General Sessions has continuously blocked the DEA from acting on any of the applications. Sessions has shifted his opinion by appearing to support the addition of more cultivation facilities but continues to stall any progress.
Justin Strekal of NORML said, “While the drastic increase in requested production of marijuana by the DEA is a positive sign, significant barriers still exist including but not limited to the NIDA monopoly on cultivation and undue hurdles for researchers to qualify for a permit. It’s time that Congress look at the 28,000 plus peer-reviewed studies currently hosted on the National Institute of Health’s online database and reform federal law by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act all together.”