The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued its long-awaited final rule aimed at expanding the amount of authorized cannabis growers to be used in cannabis research.
The DEA responded to numerous public comments since it initially proposed increasing the number of licensed cannabis growers for research back in March 2020.
The release of the finalized regulations come after both the House and Senate passed bills to promote cannabis research. The Senate approved the Cannabidiol and Marijuana Research Expansion Act, which was filed in 2019, while the House approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act. The House legislation allows for scientists to use cannabis from state-legal dispensaries, which allows researchers to study the products cannabis consumers are actually purchasing.
“This action enables us to finally produce federally legal cannabis for scientists and doctors,” said George Hodgin, a former Navy SEAL. Hodgin started his own business in Monterey, California to conduct such research, calling the move “the most meaningful cannabis policy reform at the federal level in six decades.”
A lawsuit was recently filed against the DEA, US Attorney General William Barr and Acting DEA Administrator Timothy Shea over the federal government’s failure to process cannabis research licenses.
“It’s hard to imagine the scope of suffering that people have had to endure because politics and fear override science for prohibition-minded officials like the Attorney General,” said Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder and executive director of MAPS.
Under the current DEA rules, only one facility at the University of Mississippi is allowed to grow cannabis for research. The agency first announced it would approve additional growers for the first time in 2016.