For the second year in a row, federal officials are seeking permission to grow more weed. Yes, you read that correctly. On Wednesday, the administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, posted a proposal in the US Federal Register that seeks to allow the agency to increase its marijuana production quota for the year 2015 three-fold. Interested parties have 30-days to file public comments before federal officials can act on the DEA’s request.
Specifically, the DEA wants to permit the only federally licensed pot farm, which is located at the University of Mississippi — and was recently retained as Uncle Sam’s marijuana grow op — to grow a whole lot more weed before year’s end.
For decades, U-Miss has cultivated set quantities of cannabis for use in federally approved clinical trials (regulators at the DEA, the FDA, Public Health Service and the National Institute on Drug Abuse must approve any clinical protocol seeking to study the plant’s effects in human subjects). But for most of this time there has been little demand for federally grown herb, largely because government officials had strongly discouraged any research into the discovery of the plant’s potential benefits.
However, according to the DEA’s latest public notice, the Feds are having a sudden change of heart. The agency says that the increased production is necessary because “research and product development involving cannabidiol is increasing beyond that previously anticipated for 2015.” In 2014, eleven states enacted laws pertaining to the use or study of CBD and several more are poised to enact similar measures this year.
The agency further acknowledges having received increased requests from NIDA “to provide for ongoing and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana.” These would include a series of Colorado state funded studies assessing the use of cannabis in patients with post-traumatic stress, inflammatory bowel disorders, cancer and chronic pain.