Federal Court Gave DEA 30 Days To Explain Why They Block Cannabis Research

A federal court has ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to file a written response to a lawsuit filed by a research company seeking for an explanation about the status of the applications submitted to the DEA by entities that expressed interest in growing research-grade marijuana.

A federal appellate court ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to respond within a month to a lawsuit claiming that it has unlawfully failed to act on medical cannabis research applications since 2016.

In June, the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona filed a court complaint to compel the DEA to process the applications, calling the delay “unlawful and unreasonable” and causing harm to public health.

Despite congressional pressure for the DEA to act, only the University of Mississippi has been granted federal authorization to grow research cannabis.

Such research is critical to assessing public health benefits, which, in turn, could create additional industry opportunities.

The order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gives the DEA 30 days to file a response “not to exceed 7,800 words.”

In 2016, the DEA called for applications from interested parties that wished to be licensed to grow marijuana for research purposes in order to supplement what was available from the only licensed facility at Mississippi University.

To date, the DEA doesn’t appear to have taken any action regarding the processing of those applications which were submitted years ago.

Researchers from the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) therefore went to court to compel the DEA to explain why additional manufacturers of research-grade cannabis haven’t been licensed since 2016 and yet the products currently available from Mississippi University are woefully inadequate in terms of quality and quantity.

In fact, research done on the products from Mississippi found that qualitatively, the marijuana availed to researchers by the licensed grower was closer to industrial hemp that being similar to the marijuana available at licensed dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal.

SRI, one of the entities which submitted an application to grow marijuana for research purposes, now wants the courts of law to resolve the matter of the DEA dragging its feet on making a decision on the applications submitted.

The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals seems to agree with the research group and has written an order to the DEA asking the agency to submit a response, in less than 7,800 words, to the petition filed by SRI. The court has given the federal agency 30 days within which to submit their response.

In a press statement, SRI contends that the actions or inactions of the DEA are counter to the spirit of the Controlled Substances Act, and harms the interests of SRI as well as the veterans who would benefit from the research that SRI wants to conduct on the therapeutic effects of marijuana on people suffering from PTSD.

SRI further argues that everyone, including the federal government, agrees that independent marijuana research is needed, so there is no reason why the DEA continues to stonewall companies which are interested in conducting this needed research.

Attorney General William Barr took office in February with the promise that he would look into the status of the applications before the DEA from entities that wished to grow and manufacture marijuana products for research purposes. However, he too has done nothing on the matter, just like his predecessor Jeff Sessions.

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