DEA is finally beginning to take a serious look at the medicinal benefits of marijuana. In the past, the agency has repeatedly issued public statements against the use of medical marijuana, but this year federal law enforcement officials have begun to change their stance, even saying that they will start granting licenses to commercial marijuana cultivators.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is poised to begin granting licenses to licensed cannabis producers to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, after a 15-year wait. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the federal government’s scheduling of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, the category that includes drugs like heroin and LSD. The federal government has until January to complete that process.

After eight years of prohibition, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency is ready to grant licenses to allow the cultivation of marijuana for research and medical purposes.  The DEA has been reluctant to grant licenses to grow marijuana for medical purposes, and has indicated that the new policy will not apply to other states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.  The announcement of the new policy is significant because, under the Obama Administration, the DEA has maintained a consistent policy of refusing to grant licenses to grow marijuana for medical or any other use.  The new policy does not necessarily mean that the agency will grant licenses to cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes, but it does indicate that the DEA will begin to apply the current federal medical marijuana policy to states that have relaxed marijuana laws.

word-image-18106 Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration made the groundbreaking announcement that the DEA would begin issuing marijuana cultivation licenses to several third-party applicants, which will greatly expand medical and scientific cannabis research in the United States. The announcement was made on the 14th. Can be done. The government has indicated that some applications for marijuana cultivation are nearing completion, which will allow more organizations to be registered to produce marijuana for research purposes in the near future. This would be a significant change, as the only provider of cannabis for research currently approved in the United States is the National Center for Natural Products Development at the University of Mississippi, where marijuana is grown exclusively for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Pending final approval, the DEA has determined, based on currently available information, that a number of growers’ applications to grow marijuana for research purposes in the United States appear to comply with applicable legal standards and relevant statutes. As a result, the DEA has provided these manufacturers with a memorandum of understanding (MOA) as the next step in the approval process, the agency said in a statement. In December, the agency said it had finalized new rules for applications from organizations seeking to register with the DEA to grow marijuana as a bulk producer for research purposes. Under these regulations, applicants must demonstrate that they meet a range of requirements, including having an appropriate state license, documenting that their clients have a research license, and taking reasonable precautions to prevent abuse. The DEA has now submitted a memorandum of understanding to the aforementioned growers, who appear to have met the statutory requirements, outlining how the applicant and the DEA will work together to enable the production, storage, packaging and distribution of marijuana in accordance with the new regulations, as well as other applicable regulatory requirements and relevant laws, the agency said in a statement. Once these MOAs are finally approved, the DEA intends to issue DEA registrations to these manufacturers.  Each applicant is then given a marijuana cultivation license – within their allotted quota – to assist the more than 575 DEA-approved investigators nationwide.  As individual manufacturers obtain registrations with the DEA, this information will be published on the DEA leak detection website. The DEA will continue to prioritize the review of the remaining applications and expects further approvals in the future.

DEA begins issuing marijuana licenses years after initial announcement

While research advocates welcomed the expanded research opportunities, there was also criticism of the new rules adopted in December. NORML stated that while it has long supported the promotion and expansion of in-house clinical trials, we do not believe that the proposed rules, if adopted, will achieve this result. To the contrary, we believe that adopting these rules could further impede efforts to increase scientific understanding of cannabis by unnecessarily expanding the DEA’s authority and control over decisions that should be left to public health experts and scientists. Rather than forcing researchers to access marijuana products of questionable quality produced by a limited number of federally licensed growers, NORML believes federal agencies should allow researchers to access cannabis currently produced by multiple state-licensed growers and retailers across the country. … This will not only facilitate and accelerate clinical cannabis research in the United States, but also end the DEA’s decades of silence and interference in the development of our scientific understanding of the cannabis plant, NORML said in a statement. The expansion of cultivation permits was first announced in 2016, but implementation has been slow. In April, NORML said that five years after announcing it would consider additional applications, DEA has not confirmed or rejected any of the more than 30 applications it has received.

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