420 with CNW – Released Memo Sheds Light on DEA’s Reluctance to License Additional Marijuana Producers

May 4, 2020 16:20:42

For more than four decades, the only entity allowed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to produce marijuana for research has been the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi under a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Proponents for research into marijuana’s medical abilities have long decried this monopoly, stating that it held back research.

It seems that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) concurs after a newly released 2018 memo stated that this arrangement has always been illegal. According to the memo, an international treaty requires tighter controls on the production and distribution of marijuana. This partly explains why the DEA has been hesitant to license additional marijuana suppliers.

For a very long time, researchers have complained about the quality and variety of marijuana produced by NIDA. State-licensed dispensaries provide marijuana that’s much better on both counts, but researchers cannot use it. Dr. Sue Sisley, president of the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) was researching marijuana’s effect on military vets with PTSD, and she wasn’t happy with the cannabis she received from NIDA.

“The marijuana was a powdery mishmash of stems, sticks, and leaves,” she says. The THC levels were quite low at 8%, far lower than state-legal marijuana. The cannabis also tested positive for mold and yeast.

In August 2016, the DEA announced that it was accepting applications from additional marijuana suppliers. Dozens of entities sent in their applications but years later, not even one had been approved. It turns out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an old fashioned anti-drug warrior, had gone out of his way to interfere with the process.

In 2018, Sessions reported that the DEA and the Department of Justice were moving forward with the licensing process. However, he alluded to an international treaty that required revision of ‘the previous proposal’. The memo released by the OLC fleshes out his statement.

In 1970, Congress incorporated the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 requirements into parts of the Controlled Substances Act. The Convention requires that a single government agency oversee cultivation and take physical possession of such crops as soon as possible, but not four months after the end of the harvest.

The agreement between the DEA and NIDA doesn’t meet these conditions. Both of them are part of different agencies. Additionally, the DEA doesn’t take physical possession of the crops, and it doesn’t have exclusive rights to wholesale trading and maintaining stock, another provision of the Convention.

The DEA published marijuana regulations on March 23, stating that it wants to “amend its regulations to comply with requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, including consistency with treaty obligations, in order to facilitate the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes and other licit purposes.”

It would be interesting to hear what cannabis companies like Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) think about the revelations that have come to light after the memo which was a secret document was finally released to the public.

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