The Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday published a final ruleto make it easier for researchers to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. The plan includes provisions that allow the U.S. to comply with international drug treaties by requiring researchers to acquire cannabis from the DEA rather than from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the DEA said the “unprecedented action serves as a testament to the federal government’s support for scientific and medical research with marijuana and its chemical constituents” and could “ultimately result in the development of additional marijuana-derived medicines” for Food and Drug Administration Approval.
For decades, the federal government has only approved one cultivation site for research cannabis cultivation – the University of Mississippi – which has led to several lawsuits by would-be researchers and complaints about the low-quality end product. Most recently, the DEA, its Acting Administrator Timothy Shea, and outgoing Attorney General William Barr were sued by University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher Dr. Lyle Craker over the government’s failure to process cannabis research applications.
Under the Obama Administration, the DEA began seeking applications for additional cultivators; but those applications were stalled under the Trump Administration by former Attorney General – and anti-cannabis zealot – Jeff Sessions.