DEA Seeks To Expand Marijuana Research Opportunities

Late last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Justice announced action to further expand opportunities for scientific and medical research on marijuana in the United States.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was filed for public inspection on March 20.  The proposed rule was then published in the Federal Register on Monday, March 23.  The new approach will expand opportunities for marijuana growers who seek to grow marijuana for research purposes and outline the agency’s proposed process for administering the new program, consistent with applicable law.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will advance the scientific and medical research already being conducted,” said DEA Acting Administrator Dhillon.  “DEA is making progress to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will continue to work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps.”

This proposed rule will result in additional registered growers and a larger, more diverse variety of marijuana available for research. The new regulations will enable DEA to evaluate each of the 37 pending applications to grow marijuana for research under the applicable legal standard and conform the overall program to relevant laws.

The release of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is the latest and most significant action taken to expand the number of registered marijuana growers in the United States and underscores the federal government’s support for scientific and medical research with marijuana and its chemical constituents.

Since the beginning of this Administration, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of active researchers registered with DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives – from 377 in January 2017 to 595 in March 2020. At present, more researchers are registered to conduct research on marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives than on any other schedule I substance in the United States. More than 70 percent of DEA’s total schedule I research registrant population is registered to conduct research on these substances.  To accommodate this growth in research, DEA has increased the annual production quota for marijuana by 575 percent – from 472 kilograms in 2017 to 3,200 kilograms in 2020.

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