The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is opening the door for more scientific research on cannabis. In a new Federal Register filing, the agency will increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally grown by more than quintuple. The amount will rise from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds in 2019.
These new quotas for cannabis are in order to meet U.S. medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year, while allowing for the establishment of reserve stocks. Additionally, the DEA plans to reduce opioid production levels in the U.S., including: oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl and others. Uttam Dhillon, DEA Acting Administrator, explained in a recent press release:
“This significant drop in prescriptions by doctors and DEA’s production quota adjustment will continue to reduce the amount of drugs available for illicit diversion and abuse while ensuring that patients will continue to have access to proper medicine.”
The DEA’s cultivation initiatives appear in response to the licensing of more legal growers for research that was enacted under the Obama administration. More than two dozen applications have already been filed under the expanded program, though the Department of Justice has blocked any actions on these proposals by the DEA.
Despite continued opposition against federal legalization of marijuana by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DEA's new quotas offer a hopeful outlook. For the rest of the year, the DEA will boost production to more than 2,500 pounds of cannabis, which is more than double the 978 pounds first proposed for 2018.