The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Friday that it will begin approving applications that will allow some cannabis growers to become federally authorized to manufacture the plant for research purposes, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Though the DEA began asking for applications for additional cannabis cultivators under President Barack Obama then later the Trump administration, it had not approved any of them.
Up until now, only one cultivator - a farm functioning as part of the University of Mississippi - was the only legal source of cannabis for federal research. The university had obtained the license back in 1968, which made it the only source for research cannabis in the United States for over 50 years.
The DEA revealed Friday night on its website it “took an important step to increase opportunities for medical and scientific research.” While it didn’t report how many growers have been chosen, it mentioned that officials expect to see more applications approved.
This marks one of the first important cannabis-related moves under President Joe Biden.
Why It Matters
All these years, researchers and advocates have opposed the marijuana cultivation monopoly, pointing to the importance of having a wider variety of the plant in order to study its effects on various conditions. Many also said that the University of Mississippi's cannabis was not high enough quality for proper research outcomes. Now, varieties of cannabis can be examined for treating chronic pain, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and seizures, among others, wrote the Wall Street Journal.
George Hodgin, a former Navy SEAL, founder and CEO of Biopharmaceutical Research Co. has been waiting for more than two years for permission to commence research. Hodgin praised the move calling it “a monumental step. This type of long-term thinking from the government will allow companies like ours to pioneer a federally legal cannabis market for products that are tested and approved to help the public.”
Steven Groff, a doctor in York, Pennsylvania revealed his plans to research whether cannabis can be used to kill bacteria and viruses like drug-resistant staph infections. His application was one of those approved on Friday, reported the newspaper.
“We will be growing research cannabis to sell to the whole world for the first time,” Dr. Groff said. “I know the power of this plant, but we need to find some data to back it up. That’s what’s been missing.”
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