DEA to expand marijuana research after years of delay

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move ahead with a long-delayed expansion of its marijuana research program, in a sign that the Trump administration's hostility to the drug may be waning as a growing number of states have legalized its use.

The DEA said it would roll out new guidelines that would allow more growers to produce marijuana for scientific and medical research.

That could eventually lead to "safe and effective drug products that may be approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration," the agency said in a regulatory filing.

The DEA also said producers of hemp, an industrial form of marijuana that has little psychoactive effect, will not have to get a permit from the agency.

The announcement comes more than three years after the DEA first said in August 2016 that it would expand the number of licensed growers.

Only one producer at the University of Mississippi is currently licensed to produce marijuana. Researchers complain that the monopoly has limited the types of cannabis available for study, restricting their ability to learn about the more than 100 chemical compounds in the drug.

The DEA has yet to take action on the 33 applications it has received since then, as the Trump administration has threatened a crackdown on a drug that is now legal for recreational or medical use in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, creating legal uncertainty and freezing many businesses out of the banking system.

Then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors in January 2018 that they could go after marijuana users and producers in states that had legalized the drug, reversing the hands-off position taken by the Obama administration.

The threat of prosecution has not slowed action at the state level, as eight states have approved marijuana for medical or recreational use since then.

The legal market is expected to reach $12.4 billion in the United States this year and nearly double in size by 2025, according to New Frontier Data.

The DEA says 542 people are now registered to conduct research on the drug, up 40 percent from January 2017, and the production quota has more than doubled over that period.

A wider variety of growers will give those researchers more opportunity, DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said.

"We believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study," Dhillon said in a statement.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I guess 8000 years of Human trials and not ONE fatality attributable directly to Cannabis isn't enough. The compulsive alcohol drinkers in government and industry have to be SURE that the 'thinking' which is such a central part of the Cannabis experience does not loosen their control upon us. I get it. If I were one of them, thinking would scare me too. But, if you are not sure, come to Portland, Oregon and chat with an elderly person on the street and they'll explain it all to you in about 5 minutes. And, if you can score some grant money, we can recruit all of the lifelong users you could want for a study on the benefits of early neuronal Cannabization and the relaxed Mind. Or all the elderly users you could want for a study of senescence mitigation via Cannabization. Can't sleep, two puffs of a good Indica. Body aches but need to be active, Sativa. Maybe an 83% THC plus 6-7% CBD cartridge. Easy to use, convenient, and available at any outlet. AND 100% LEGAL easy on the Liver, arteries, and Heart unlike organic solvents like EtOH. And before Corporate banned it in 1933, one of the most popular pharmaceutical products on the market taking the place of aspirin, Motrin, well, just about any of the other OTC buffers for Human misery we see today. If Western Medicine were an honest discipline, it would admit that Cannabis was central to Western pharmaceutical practice until early in the last Century when Corporate saw it only as a competitor and caused its Prohibition. And the minds who find it difficult to use are those who do not know themselves well and any change, however subtle, creates fear for them. They can't help it. And again, chronic use is neither required nor demanded by the substance. Today, perhaps again next month, or never. And especially for the elderly, what it does for the accumulated interest on youthful 'fun', those 'general' aches and pains, it doesn't 'deaden' them (or you) like opiates but takes the pain out of active attention besides lowering intensity. A pain successfully ignored is a pain relieved. Didn't mean to mount a sales campaign here but sometimes all of the naive silliness which surrounds Pot just demands loquaciousness.

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