Sessions further impedes cannabis research


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

An anonymous senior Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official claimed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had effectively blocked an Obama Administration initiative to expand the number of cannabis suppliers for scientific research.

Sessions or the Department of Justice had not released an official statement, but did not respond or take action on two dozen requests to grow cannabis for research.

The Controlled Substances Act lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, classifying it as more dangerous than cocaine. The Schedule I status of cannabis means the government does not recognize any legitimate medical use for the plant, which makes attaining the plant for research more difficult.

Cannabis researchers who wish to conduct federal studies need a license from the DEA, approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and access to the single authorized source of legal cannabis from the University of Mississippi. Researchers had often complained about the low quality of cannabis the university produced.

Late in the Obama administration, the DEA relaxed the constraints on cannabis production for research purposes and allowed other groups to apply for authorization to grow. In early August, the DEA released production quotas which intended to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers and cannabis used for research.