The DEA is finally about to end the federal monopoly on cannabis research cultivators
After years of delays, legal challenges, and obfuscation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) finally announced that it would begin evaluating applications for federally licensed research cannabis breeders.
Last week, several organizations, including the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), Biopharmaceutical Research Company (BRC), and Groff NA Hemplex LLC, received notifications from the DEA that their applications for federal license weed breeder approval were under review. Each of these companies filed applications with the DEA five years ago asking the government for permission to grow high quality legal weeds for research purposes.
In the late 1960s, the federal government granted the University of Mississippi the exclusive right to grow legal weeds for scientists doing cannabis research. Despite over 50 years of cannabis growing experience, this institution has built a reputation for breeding some of the lowest quality schwags the world has ever seen.
The university deliberately limits all weeds it grows to a maximum THC content of 8 percent, although top-quality flowers found in legal pharmacies often reach 25 percent or more. Independent studies have found this weed actually closer to hemp than marijuana, and even found that some samples were contaminated with mold.
Several research teams have actually been forced to reject this government weed because it bears so little resemblance to cannabis that is actually found in the real world. And in March of this year, researchers at SRI wrote that this poor quality cannabis compromised the results of a PTSD study they had been working on for nearly a decade.
Researchers have consistently requested that the DEA license additional growers to provide high quality research herbs, and in 2016 the agency finally agreed to accept applications from potential farmers. However, the government failed to move the process forward, forcing SRI and other claimants to sue the DEA (twice) for their claims to be considered.
In 2019, a federal judge forced the DEA to declare its inaction. The agency got out with a weak apology and further delayed the process. Last March, the government granted the University of Mississippi another year-long extension of its research weed monopoly, further frustrating scientists.
Finally, however, the DEA suddenly announced that it was pushing ahead with the applications it had received half a decade ago. Many of the original applicants have just received letters indicating that their applications have been accepted conditionally, and each has been asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to move on to the next stage.
“The DEA is nearing the end of its review of certain applications for marijuana growers and will soon be able to register additional entities approved to manufacture marijuana for research purposes,” the agency wrote, according to Marihuana Moment. “Pending final approval, the DEA has determined, based on the information currently available, that a number of requests from manufacturers to grow marijuana for research in the United States appear to be in compliance with applicable legal standards and relevant laws.”
When applicants complete their MOAs, the DEA said it “anticipates the issuance of DEA registrations to these manufacturers … Each applicant will then be entitled to use marijuana – up to their assigned quota – in support of the more than 575 DEA- Licenses to grow researchers across the country. “
Of course, the agency has not disclosed a timeline for the final approvals, but it has promised to publicly release information about those approvals when they are completed.