DEA to review 37 requests to cultivate medical cannabis for research
After 4 years of delay, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced that it will will review 37 applications to cultivate medical cannabis for research purposes and st forth new rules for future growers that will outline how the cannabis-growing research program will work.
This directive is monumental in the amount of progress that stands to be made on a federal level regarding cannabis policy. Traditional drug research development can take years in the United States. The necessary clinical trials and approval processes from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for cannabis-based therapy has been long overdue.
Currently, the only legal cannabis plants available to research is cultivated at the University of Mississippi under federal contract with NIDA. A 50 year long special arrangement. However growing interest in the medical benefits of cannabis has increased dramatically in recent years. Registered users in states where medical or recreational use is legal, many researchers have voiced their frustration over the single source research point.
The NIDA cannabis research does not adequately represent the potency, quality, or diversity of what is currently available in legal markets across the U.S. When researchers talk about developing cannabis into medicine, NIDA’s current product and processes are inadequate at best.
In Fall 2016, the DEA announced a plan to consider new applications from cultivators and growers across the U.S., growers which included multiple universities and research institutes, emerging biotech startups, and companies currently producing cannabis products in states where the plant is legal. But once President Donald Trump took office elected and appointed longtime cannabis critic Jeff Sessions as attorney general, the program went dark. Applicants endured a 3 year long waiting period despite attempts to reach officials.
In compliance with federal law, many of these researchers are just now beginning to grow and cultivate cannabis for medical research, including experienced cultivators who currently grow and produce high-quality cannabis who, in the word of lab researchers, are trying to replicate the product that people are growing and using out in the real world.
What is key here is staying on the federal law’s good side while remaining unfazed by the idea of a law changing that would result in the DEA or another law enforcement agency taking total possession of their lab research and company crops. Researchers are ready and willing to take action. All that’s needed are protections for labs and protocols for moving forward.
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