Controls to improve cannabis cultivation for research in the United States
The Drug Enforcement Administration announced new rules last week that the agency says will expand the opportunities for scientific and medical research on the cannabis plant in the United States. The regulatory proposal notice was tabled for public inspection Friday before being published Monday in the federal register.
The Drug Enforcement Administration proposes to amend its regulations to comply with the requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, including consistency with treaty obligations, to facilitate the cultivation of hemp for research and other lawful purposes . More specifically, this proposed rule would modify the provisions of the regulations governing requests from persons seeking to register with the DEA to grow as manufacturers and add provisions relating to purchase and sale by the DEA.
The DEA initially announced that it would increase the number of marijuana growers in 2016, prompting 37 different entities to submit registration requests to the agency. However, the DEA did not respond to any of these requests and announced in 2019 that it would create new rules before registering any new cultivator. Currently, only one University of Mississippi institution has been approved to produce cannabis for research.
"The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to support additional research on marijuana and its components, and we believe that registering more growers will advance existing scientific and medical research," said the administrator. DEA Interim Uttam Dhillon in a press release. "The DEA is making progress in registering other hemp growers for federally authorized research, and will continue to work with other relevant federal agencies to accelerate the necessary next steps."
DEA to serve as herb broker
Under the proposed rules, the DEA would become a broker for all cannabis grown for research purposes. Growers would be required to sell their products to the agency, which would then sell them to researchers for approved studies. Currently, the agency's only cannabis grower supplies researchers with research herb directly, without DEA acting as an intermediary.
The DEA has stated that it will take control of all cannabis, cannabis resin and other derived products produced by licensed growers in order to comply with United Nations treaties governing research on controlled substances. The agency said international regulations also require DEA to be the sole importer of cannabis and cannabis resin for research, although this requirement does not apply to approved cannabis preparations.
The DEA and Justice Minister's opinion also noted that since 2017, there has been a 58% increase in the number of researchers authorized to conduct research on cannabis. The agency also increased the quota of cannabis produced for research from 472 kilograms in 2017 to 3200 kilograms in 2020.
The announced rule change will now go through a 60-day period for the public to comment on the proposal. The DEA said the proposed rule change is "the last and most important step taken to increase the number of registered marijuana growers in the United States and highlights the federal government's support for scientific and medical research on marijuana and its chemical components ”.