DEA Opens Research-Grade Pot Production to More Than One

Politics News - DEA Opens Research-Grade Pot Production to More Than One

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced they’ll grant more cannabis growers the opportunity to manufacture cannabis plants needed for research purposes. 

For over a half a century, this privilege was given to only one entity—the National Center for the Development of National Products, at the University of Mississippi. For this supplier, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) serves as the contractor.

Needless to say, having just one cannabis cultivator for the whole country has been a huge inconvenience for research teams across the US. Following many statements, their dissatisfaction comes from:

  • lack of strain diversity
  • low potency plants
  • low-quality plants (some even complained about receiving moldy plants with impurities).
  • limited supply (which has lead to imports)

But despite these obstacles, hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) in particular are a part of multiple scientific studies. 

However, the same cannot be said for cannabis drug development research. The complication comes from the fact that the drug has to match the one that is involved in the trials, and the choice of plants is limited. 

In sum, the main reason for the cannabis research lag is the illegal status of marijuana on a federal level. Since cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance, only the DEA has the authority to give the green lights to research cannabis growers. 

So, there’s a big gap between progressive marijuana legalization that boosts sales and the cannabis market worth on one hand, and the research field on the other, where it is hard to come by high-grade and versatile plant material. In any case, this is about to change!

In March, at least 37 manufacturer applications were being reviewed, including research institutes, research centers, universities, but also, pharmacies.

If approved, these and future applicants will be required to supply close to 600 DEA-approved research projects on the waiting list for research-grade cannabis.

However, researchers have to be patient, because there’s no precise deadline as to when the licensing of new cultivators will begin.