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Cannabis Research Expansion Proposed by DEA

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced a new proposal on March 20 that would open up more cannabis research opportunities in the United States.

The proposal, called the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, was published on March 23 in the Federal Register. It will provide a foundation for cultivators who want to participate in cannabis research opportunities in the future. “The Drug Enforcement Administration is proposing to amend its regulations to comply with the requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, including consistency with treaty obligations, in order to facilitate the cultivation of marihuana for research purposes and other licit purposes,” states the Federal Register summary. “Specifically, this proposed rule would amend the provisions of the regulations governing applications by persons seeking to become registered with DEA to grow marihuana as bulk manufacturers and add provisions related to the purchase and sale of this marihuana by DEA.”

The DEA hopes that this proposal will help to increase the number of research participants in the country, as well as a variety of cannabis that could become available as research material. This will also allow the DEA to give further consideration to the 37 pending applications waiting to be considered as a research option. “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, according to a press release.  “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.”

Public comments are welcomed by the DEA, and may be submitted through standard mail or electronically here, by referencing [RIN 1117-AB54/Docket No. DEA-506].

The DEA states that 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” with 377 in January 2017 to 595 as of March 2020. It also notes that more than 70 percent of the organization’s “total schedule I research registrant population” is currently registered with cannabis research in mind. In result, the DEA has increased its cannabis production for research from just 472 kilograms in 2017 to approximately 3,200 kilograms this year.