Will the DEA's new cannabis licensing system hinder the future of research?

Published Oct 7, 2019 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Jose S

In the latest marijuana news this week, we heard about the official release from the DEA in the United States who has promised to introduce new licensing for cultivators that have been waiting for years for official approval to grow cannabis. Though the federal government remains firm on the schedule 1 status of marijuana, researchers are looking for new producers that can provide a consistent supply of the plant’s materials. For years now, there has only been one federally approved supplier of pot for cannabis research, and that is the University of Mississippi, and they are having a difficult time keeping up to requests.

Who is looking to get a DEA license?

Cannabis research is in hot demand as regions all over the globe work to uncover the unknown benefits and effects of marijuana consumption for both medical patients and recreational consumers. Some of the biggest cannabis companies in the world have applied for the opportunity to grow marijuana from within the United States to ship products internationally, and most of them have been patiently hoping while sitting on a wait list for the last several years. This is a unique opportunity that is not meant to prepare for legalization, as it is intended to further cannabis research in the medical field.

Why the new DEA license may only prolong the wait for more cannabis research

Though this marijuana news might sound like an excellent opportunity and a signal that shows a new interest by the federal government into cannabis research, this isn’t the first time that a DEA license has been promised. In fact, the whole reason that a waitlist even exists is that three years ago, a similar promise of dedication towards the future of cannabis research was made, and yet to this day, no change has occurred.

Growers believe this is a stall tactic

Along with the promise of access to this new DEA license, there, of course, must be a period of deliberation to assess the situation and determine how exactly to proceed. At this point, it appears that the federal government is asking for two years to prepare the base of this extensive plan. Though some consumers and medical patients may have taken a moment to celebrate the news, it is now looking a lot more like a scam to buy more time to do nothing.

In the meantime, cannabis research is at a standstill, and with minimal amounts of the plant materials coming out of the University of Mississippi, it looks like specialists and scientists will have to wait a little while longer to begin critical trials that are necessary to learn more about this miraculous plant.

Luckily, despite its lack of enthusiasm over growing pot for cannabis research within the country, the United States has promised just over 3 million to medical marijuana studies taking place outside of the region. Unfortunately, this move is likely to put the United States even further behind their Canadian neighbors, who are handling access to legal cannabis quite well despite quelling fears that remain just across the border.

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