Congressional forces, at least the dedicated few with enough cojones to swing violent haymakers in the name of marijuana reform on Capitol Hill, are working to get U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify his personal decision to squash an expansion effort designed to improve the state of cannabis research in the United States.
Earlier this week, federal lawmakers fired off a letter to Alabama’s own pot-hating boner boy, asking him to provide them with some explanation as to why the Justice Department has stalled a program that would allow more growers, other than the University of Mississippi, to produce research marijuana.
The letter was sent in response to a recent article in the Washington Post, which suggested that the DEA is unable to license any additional growers because the Justice Department has simply refused to give the necessary approval. A law enforcement official close to the situation told the news source “they’re sitting on it… they just will not act on these things.”
Now, the congressmen are demanding answers.
“The purpose of our letter is threefold: first, we wish to establish the veracity of this article’s claims,” the letter reads, according to the Washington Times. “Second, if the article’s claims are true, we would like to know the rationale behind the Department of Justice’s decision. Finally, we would like to encourage you to proceed with rapidity on the DEA’s permitting process, as we believe it is in keeping with President Trump’s campaign promises, and the best interests of the American people.”
It was around this time last year that the DEA, perhaps feeling some pressure for failing again to downgrade the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant, announced that it would expand its marijuana cultivation program to more universities across the United States. But despite the fact that as many as 25 applicants have expressed interest in the job, the DEA has yet to grant any additional licenses.
An official with the DEA told the Post that “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program,” which has prevented the agency from making good on its promise.
The letter, which was signed by Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Dana Rohrabacher of California Jared Polis of Colorado and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, says “it is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule.”
The congressmen concluded their letter by saying they would like Sessions to treat the situation with an “unwavering commitment to the rule of the law,” by giving the DEA the permission it needs to move forward with the licensing of additional grow centers.
As it stands, the University of Mississippi is the only federally funded marijuana cultivation site in the country. Researchers often complain that the cannabis grown at this facility is not a high enough quality to produce data with any reasonable level of accuracy.
In fact, a number of studies that have been given the green light to explore the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant have been stalled due to this less than perfect system.
The Justice Department has not yet responded.