Although the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has maintained that it is necessary to restrict the cultivation of research marijuana to a single grower in order to stay in compliance with international drug laws, a new federal report indicates that Uncle Sam’s leading drug warriors have been mistaken all along — the agency does, in fact, have the power to issue additional licenses without catching any heat from the United Nations.
In response to a recent inquiry by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the U.S. Department of State says there is nothing legally standing in the way of the United States distributing additional licenses for the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes.
“Nothing in the text of the Single Convention, nor in the Commentary, suggests that there is a limitation on the number of licenses that can be issued, nor, on the other hand, is there a prohibition against member states imposing such a limitation,” the report reads. “Moreover, we are not aware that the International Narcotics Control Board has highlighted the number of licenses as an issue of concern.”
Interestingly, this news from the State Department goes against the grain of the DEA’s interpretation of international law, suggesting that the longtime marijuana monopoly overseen by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has been without reason. In fact, the State Department clarifies in its report that the monopoly on marijuana cultivation is not a requirement for adhering to the international drug treaties.
For decades, researchers have had difficulty getting their hands on experimental marijuana because the federal government has only allowed the University of Mississippi to grow weed in the name of science. This cultivation and distribution model has caused a wealth of problems for study groups, including the inability to get pot in sufficient enough quantities as well as without the proper potency to ensure accuracy in their results.
However, several other countries, including Canada and Holland, have issued multiple licenses for the cultivation of medical and scientific marijuana without creating any tension within the international community. And while the DEA’s current policy is not a violation of the treaties, the agency could easily open up the market to more growers.
Mike Liszewski, Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access believes this clarification from the State Department should be all that is needed for the Obama Administration to pressure the DEA to finally relinquish some control – potentially creating an opportunity for each state to have permission to grow marijuana for research purposes.
“With this news, President Obama should direct the DEA to immediately begin the process of issuing additional licenses,” Liszewski said. “Breaking up the DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly would benefit researchers and patients alike, and would not offend treaty obligations.”