The Drug Enforcement Administration announced Aug. 26 that it is moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States. The DEA is providing notice of pending applications from entities applying to be registered to manufacture marijuana for researchers. The DEA anticipates that registering additional qualified marijuana growers will increase the variety of marijuana available for these purposes.
Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by the DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives, and Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019. Similarly, in the last two years, the DEA has more than doubled the production quota for marijuana each year based on increased usage projections for federally-approved research projects.
“I am pleased that [the] DEA is moving forward with its review of applications for those who seek to grow marijuana legally to support research,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services and across the Administration to improve research opportunities wherever we can.”
“[The] DEA is making progress in the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps,” said DEA acting administrator Uttam Dhillon. “We support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”
This notice also announces that, as the result of a recent amendment to federal law, certain forms of cannabis no longer require DEA registration to grow or manufacture. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, changed the definition of marijuana to exclude “hemp"—plant material that contains 0.3 percent or less Δ-9 THC on a dry weight basis. Accordingly, hemp, including hemp plants and cannabidiol (CBD) preparations at or below the 0.3 percent Δ-9 THC threshold, is not a controlled substance, and a DEA registration is not required to grow or research it.
Before making decisions on these pending applications, the DEA intends to propose new regulations that will govern the marijuana growers program for scientific and medical research. The new rules will help ensure the DEA can evaluate the applications under the applicable legal standard and conform the program to relevant laws. To ensure transparency and public participation, this process will provide applicants and the general public with an opportunity to comment on the regulations that should govern the program of growing marijuana for scientific and medical research.
The Notice of Application is available here: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.