The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has taken steps to significantly increase the amount of cannabis plants that can be grown in the country legally. Could this mean that the agency is finally warming up to marijuana and its therapeutic benefits?
Currently, the allowed amount of cannabis that can be legally grown in the U.S. for research purposes is 1,000 pounds. And, according to a report by Forbes, the DEA wants to up this amount to more than 5,4000 pounds or 2.45 million grams in 2019.
The Forbes report cited a Federal Register filing set that is still unpublished.
Only one legit cannabis grower
The federal government currently allows only one cannabis farm to grow the plant for research purposes. This is a farm at the University of Mississippi.
There are other entities that have exressed interest and have applied to grow research-grade marijuana, but U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has hindered the application process.
However, this planned increase in research-grade cannabis levels could mean an end to AG Sessions’ efforts to block medical cannabis research. This could also mean that new parties may soon be federally licensed to grow the plant.
More cannabis, less opioids
This development comes alongside the Justice Department and the DEA’s announcement in a news release that their goal for 2019 is to reduce the production of opioids. More specifically, the agencies are aiming to cut down the production of the six most frequently abused opioids in the country by 10 per cent on average. These include oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and hydrocodone.
DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon noted that too many lives have already been lost to the opioid epidemic and many families and communities still suffer tragic consequences due to this crisis every day. He said that the DEA’s production quota adjustment and a significant drop in doctors’ prescriptions will continue to lessen the amount of opioids available for abuse while making sure that patients continue to have access to proper medicine.
The DEA added that quotas for marijuana, as well as for other drugs, reflect the total amount of controlled substances that is needed to meet their annual scientific, research, medical, industrial, and export needs, and needed for maintaining and establishing reserve stocks.
Quota for THC
Despite the proposed increase in the amount of medical cannabis to be cultivated next year, the DEA proposes to keep the production of tetracannabinol or THC at 384,460 grams. This is the allowed amount for 2018.
The DEA classifies THC differently from cannabis. The DEA refers to cannabis or marijuana as the plant, while it refers to THC (including delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC) as the ingredient used in anti-nausea drugs such as dronabinol.
Open to public comments soon
The DEA’s proposed quotas for 2019 still have to officially appear in the Federal Register. As soon as they do, the public will have the opportunity to submit comments that pertain to the matter.
This comment period will last for 30 days and will allow the DEA to make necessary changes or amendments if they choose to do so.