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DEA seeks major increase in federally-approved cannabis production to meet growth in research needs

The Motley Fool reports:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had an opportunity to reschedule or de-schedule marijuana back in the summer of 2016 in response to two petitions but chose not to take any action.

However, news out of the DEA this past week might signal that the regulatory agency is changing its tune, or at least softening its stance, on marijuana.

As reported by Forbes, the DEA has requested an annual grow quota of 3,200,000 grams (about 7,055 pounds) for 2020 that’ll be used in scientific studies to examine the risks and benefits of the cannabis plant. What’s so meaningful about this number is that it’s 621% higher than 443,680 gram quota the DEA requested in 2018, and nearly 31% more than the 2.45 million grams requested in 2019. In other words, it would appear that the DEA is getting serious about tackling the primary obstacle to federal legalization in the U.S. by creating a risk-versus-benefit profile for marijuana.

As further evidence of this shift in DEA policy, the number of individuals registered by the DEA to conduct research into cannabis, extracts, and derivatives, has grown by 41% over the past two years.

This announcement also comes just a month after the agency announced that it would finally begin processing licensing applications for new cultivation farms used in federal research. For decades, the University of Mississippi has been the only source of federally legal cannabis production for research purposes, which in itself is a constraint on research capacity. [Continue reading…]

Tom Angell notes:

Research has demonstrated that the current supply of federally approved marijuana more closely resembles hemp than commercially available cannabis, which raises questions about the applicability of studies using it on the effects of the products consumers are actually using in the growing number of state-legal marketplaces.

The director of the Mississippi facility recently said that he doesn’t understand why anyone would want to use cannabis containing eight percent THC, a far lower amount than what is typically available through state-licensed retailers—another signal that the utility of his products in determining the effects of marijuana on real consumers is questionable.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health said in a letter to a senator that they support licensing additional cultivators and also allowing scientists to test cannabis products purchased from dispensaries. [Continue reading…]

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