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DEA to Expand Medical Cannabis Research Program


The Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week that they will be “moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research” for medical cannabis. Officials at the DEA noted that they will also provide agency notice to organizations and individuals who are awaiting the results of their pending research applications.

According to a press release, the DEA says that since 2017, there has been an increase in the number of registered individuals who are legally allowed to conduct medical cannabis research. The agency says that the number went from 384 to 542 over the course of the last two years. While this number might seem a bit low to cannabis advocates, officials at the DEA claim they have more than doubled the required amount of cannabis production, “based on increased usage projections for federally approved research projects.”

The administrator of the DEA, Uttam Dhillon, added in the press release that the agency does support “additional research into marijuana and its components and believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”

Last week, Dr. Sue Sisley, a cannabis researcher in Arizona, announced her plans to sue the DEA over the low-grade cannabis that has been provided by the federal agency to her and her team. The lawsuit states that the cannabis provided for testing is only of one variety and is so low quality that some might even mistake it for hemp. 

The DEA also announced in the press release that they plan to propose new regulations for cannabis research. Those regulatory proposals will allegedly be put up for public comment and scrutiny, but that remains to be seen. There is no clear word as of right now whether Dr. Sisley’s decision to move forward with the lawsuit has resulted in the DEA’s announcement of the expansion of the cannabis research program. However, it seems to line up perfectly, as Dr. Sisley’s lawsuit seems to have opened up new lines of communication, as it points out the absurdity of the cannabis she and her team are being given for testing. This testing is supposed to be part of the information that will be used to form new laws, therefore it’s imperative that researchers like Dr. Sisley have access to high quality cannabis of different varieties.