The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is finally taking a small yet progressive step forward for cannabis. More specifically, the agency announced that it will be publishing notice of applications for cannabis research.
According to the DEA, they are “facilitating and expanding” the field of medical and scientific research for cannabis by publishing a notice of applications submitted by entities who are applying to become registered manufacturers of marijuana to be used for research.
Many applicants revealed that this move by the DEA is long overdue. Apparently, their applications have been put on hold for a long time.
The DEA customarily publishes such notice just within weeks of receiving these applications to manufacture a controlled substance. Yet, according to more than 20 applicants, they have applied for a license to cultivate cannabis for research more than two years ago.
Attorney General William Barr stated that he is pleased that the DEA is moving to review the applications. According to him, the Department of Justice assures that they will continue to work with the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as with the rest of the administration, in order to improve research opportunities in the country.
It can be recalled that the DEA first said it would approve additional cannabis growers in August 2016. However, under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department placed the process on hold.
In June 2019, one of the applicants, the Scottsdale Research Institute, sued the Justice Department and the DEA with the federal court. Scottdale sought a writ of mandamus, which would compel both bodies to take action on the pending applications.
Scottsdale, a clinical trial company based in Phoenix, applied for a manufacturing license with the DEA in 2016. The company wanted to grow their own cannabis plants for an ongoing cannabis study. This study looks into the use of medical cannabis by veterans who are suffering from PTSD.
In its lawsuit, Scottsdale cited a federal law provision requiring the Attorney General to publish a notice of application not later than 90 days after receiving an application to manufacture a Schedule I substance for use exclusively in a clinical trial.
In July, the DEA was ordered by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to explain why it has not yet responded to nearly two dozen cannabis production applications filed three years ago. The appeals court gave the agency an August 28 deadline.
The DEA’s recent announcement, therefore, is in compliance with this deadline.
However, this does not mean that applicants already have reason to celebrate. Currently, there are already 33 entries requesting a federal license to grow cannabis for research purposes, and the DEA will not be approving all of the applicants. Moreover, the agency intends to modify the regulations governing the program of cultivating cannabis for scientific and medical research.