Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t outright denying federal applications to grow cannabis for research purposes, but he is stalling further research by allowing more than two dozen requests to languish.
A little over a year ago, the US Drug Enforcement Agency began accepting applications to grow cannabis for research. This move was meant to improve the availability and quality of cannabis for use in scientific reasons. As part of the approval process, the DEA says it needs the DOJ’s sign-off, but for now, it hasn’t happened.
“They’re sitting on it,” one law enforcement official said, “They just will not act on these things.”
A senior DEA official explained further, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.’’
Because of this DOJ roadblock, researchers are struggling to access cannabis in order to conduct experiments into the drug’s health effects and clinical applications. Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only one place in the US that has permission from the federal government to grow and distribute cannabis.
Leafly reported that the cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi is sub par; in some cases not even looking like marijuana. This low-quality bud has brought studies to a halt, such as the PTSD study Johns Hopkins University was slated to help the non-profit group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, conduct over multi-year clinical trial.
MAPS spokesman Brad Burge stated that the poor-quality cannabis was the primary reason the study ended, “NIDA wasn’t able to provide the relatively high THC level that we wanted to look at,” Burge said. “We asked for a 12% THC strain, and they were only able to get us a 10%.” For reference, the bulk of cannabis sold at adult-use stores in legal states exceeds 20% THC.
Chuck Rosenberg, the acting DEA Administrator, had stated last year that the DEA would “support and promote legitimate research regarding marijuana and its constituent parts.”