U.S.: DEA Wants Feds To Grow Almost 1,000 Pounds Of Marijuana Next Year
That's how much marijuana the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants federally-licensed researchers to grow for use in scientific studies in 2018.
That amounts to a little more than 978 pounds of government-cultivated cannabis.
While that may sound like a lot, it's actually a slight decrease from this year's level.
The 2018 aggregate production quotas that DEA laid out in a Federal Register filing slated for publication on Wednesday are amounts the agency thinks will "provide for the estimated medical, scientific, research [and] industrial needs of the United States, lawful export requirements, and the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks."
In addition to establishing the quota of nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana, DEA will allow the production of 384,460 grams of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in 2018.
The order, signed by Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson, also allocates quotas of 92,120 grams of cocaine, 40 grams of LSD, 45 grams of heroin, 30 grams of psilocybin, 30 grams of ibogaine and varying levels of many other substances.
The filing comes just a few days after DEA finalized 2017 drug production quotas, establishing a limit of 472,000 grams of marijuana and 409,000 grams of THC.
In comparison, the proposed reduction for 2018 seems to run counter to DEA's stated goal of expanding marijuana research. If there are to be more studies, it would probably make sense to allow for an increased supply of cannabis.
But the reduction could also reflect the fact that the Trump administration's U.S. Department of Justice, of which DEA is a part, doesn't appear especially interested in additional studies on marijuana.
Since 1968, the only legal source of cannabis for researchers is a farm that the University of Mississippi operates under a license from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Scientists have complained that it is difficult to obtain product from the facility and that it is often of low quality.
Last year, however, DEA moved to end the monopoly by creating a process to license additional cultivators.
But although the agency reportedly received at least 25 applications from would-be legal marijuana growers, higher-level Justice Department officials have blocked action on the proposals.
Members of Congress have pushed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to allow DEA to process the applications, but he hasn't yet responded to a bipartisan letter about the issue.
However, Sessions said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month that allowing more research cultivation would be "healthy."
For now, DEA seems to be operating under the assumption that researchers won't need more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana for next year. However, that could change, as the agency often adjusts its quotas throughout the year as its assessment of needs changes.
Author: Tom Angell