According to Forbes Magazine, the DEA wants to increase the amount of cannabis permitted for research in the US while decreasing the amount of opioids being produced.
The DEA, never known as a friend to the cannabis industry is apparently responding to the growing chorus of support for medical cannabis and even recreational use. They have authorized an increase of more than five times their 2018 quota, jumping from about 1,000 pounds a year being grown for research to about 5400 pounds of the plant in 2019. Production of CBD related planting will remain at 2018 levels.
Simultaneously the DEA is also pressing to reduce opioid production in the US, targeting oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl and others. “We’ve lost too many lives to the opioid epidemic and families and communities suffer tragic consequences every day”, according to DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon in a press release. By reducing production he also believes fewer of these drugs will be available for abuse and access to “proper drugs” will be advanced.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, long-time anti-pot activist also stated “the opioid crisis we are facing is the worst crisis in American History”. But his solution is aimed only at slowing opioid abuse and not being an advocate for cannabis as a replacement solution.
So where would this new cannabis production take place? That remains a question. Most of the cannabis produced for medical research in the US comes from a single source at the University of Mississippi. Scientists have complained for years that this has been limiting and the quality is poor. The Obama administration attempted to remedy this by accepting applications from more than a dozen locations, ready to produce, but the Sessions team has not acted on any of them. Sessions had stated last October that he was looking into this. In April he said something would happen “soon” but still no action has been taken.
Perhaps this new edict is a sign that something could be happening. NORML Political Director Justin Strekel had a more direct solution.”It’s time Congress look at the 28,000 plus peer-reviewed studies currently hosted on the National Institute of Health’s online database and reform federal law by removing marijuana from the the controlled substance act altogether”.
These new DEA quotas were just published on the Federal Register (www.federalregister.com) and the public now has 30 days to review, post comments and perhaps stimulate amendments.