The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) plans for authorizing the cultivation of 3.2 million grams of marijuana for research purposes in the 2020 planting season has been finalized. The 3.2 million grams is a 30% increase from 2019.
In September, the DEA published a notice in the Federal Register which proposed the 3.2 million grams production of weed. The final notice to be released includes the sentiments of the people collected during the public comment period, which were from the health care providers, the general public, and state and federal officials.
Most of the comments focused on the proposed reduction of opioid production by the DEA, citing that this could result in a shortage in the prescription, which could impact the patients negatively.
However, the DEA still decreased production quotas for certain opioids such as oxymorphone and oxycodone. The initial production of Oxycodone was 72, 593,983 grams, but the DEA reduced the final quota to 67,593,983 grams.
The marijuana production quota did not change at the end of the public comment timeline.
According to the DEA, the quota represents the estimated medical, scientific, study, and industrial needs of the U.S. for legal export requirements, and the establishment and preservation of reserve stock. The DEA further said that there has been an increase in demand for research-grade cannabis, and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical or adult-use purposes.
In the initial notice, compared to 2017, the number of agencies registered with the DEA to conduct marijuana research or on its derivatives, extracts, and THC has increased by 40% in 2019. In 2017, the number of registered agencies was 384, and by January 2019, the number had risen to 542.
Despite the increase in the marijuana production quota and the number of registered researchers, there is only one marijuana cultivation facility that is authorized by the federal government, the University of Mississippi farm. Three years have passed since the DEA said that it would approve additional manufacturers of research marijuana, but it is yet to take action.
This summer, scientists filed a lawsuit against the DEA, arguing that it is using delaying tactics and failing to fulfill its duties of approving more than 24 applications for federally approved marijuana growers.
In August, the DEA made an announcement saying that due to the overwhelming number of applications, the agency had developed alternative regulations for processing the applications. This resulted in the dismissal of the lawsuit before the federal court since the agency was taking the necessary measures to resolve the issue brought before court.
Researchers and legislators also said that the University of Mississippi farm does not have all the marijuana products being traded on the market. Some of the marijuana contains lower levels of THC and other cannabinoids, which undermines the quality of the studies.
According to one study, the chemical composition of marijuana from federal farms was closer to that of hemp than of other marijuana available on the market, and this made it more urgent to license additional producers for research-grade marijuana.
Industry watchers are certain that marijuana companies, such as Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI) and Willow Biosciences Inc. (CSE: WLLW) (OTCQB: CANSF), may have preferred that the federal agency announces additional producers so that the larger production quota can avail the quality of marijuana needed by researchers.
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