By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Notably, according to an August 2018 filing in the Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/23/2018-18265/proposed-adjustments-to-the-aggregate-production-quotas-for-schedule-i-and-ii-controlled-substances), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is seeking to more than quintuple the amount of marijuana that can legally be grown in the U.S. for medical research purposes—from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds in 2019. At the same time, the DEA is also seeking to curtail the total number of opioids manufactured in the country.

Most Americans are unaware that, since 1968, a farm maintained by the University of Mississippi has monopolized the production of marijuana that can legally be used for research in America. Scientists and members of the medical research community have frequently and fervently complained that approvals to conduct research are difficult to obtain, and that the Mississippi farm’s marijuana product they are forced to use is of such poor quality that it alters and hampers results yielded from their research studies.

In response to these complaints, several years ago the DEA moved to end the Mississippi farm’s production monopoly and create a process for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to license additional cultivators. Since then, well over two dozen facilities have filed proposals for licenses to legally grow marijuana for medical research, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department repeatedly blocked the DEA from acting on these applications. With Jeff Sessions out now, one can hope that these applications will be reviewed and that many will be granted, so that high grade cannabis will be available to the scientific and medical communities for research.

The DEA’s significant increase in marijuana production quotas for 2019 could signal that the agency believes some of these additional grower applications will now be reviewed and approved. If so, perhaps it will encourage scientists and the medical community to conduct more research studies targeting the medicinal uses of cannabis.

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