The Trump administration announced on Monday that it will approve more marijuana growers for both medical and scientific research.
In a statement, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) acting administrator, Uttam Dhillon, said the agency is “making progress in the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research” and “will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps.”
“We support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study,” Dhillon added. The agency has received what it calls an “unprecedented” number of licensing submissions for research-grade production.
The Arizona-based Scottsdale Research Institute has called the administration’s efforts so far “sub-par” as it sought approval to grow the plant for its own research purposes. The institute complained of approved supplies “tainted with extraneous material like stick and seeds, and [mold],” saying it was “not suited for any clinical trials, let alone the ones SRI was doing.
Despite contradicting research and a wave of support for its legalization, marijuana remains classified as a “Schedule 1” substance. Schedule 1 drugs have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA definition, and include LSD and heroin.
The DEA hopes that broader approvals “facilitate research, advance scientific understanding about the effects of marihuana, and potentially aid in the development of safe and effective drug products that may be approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration.”
In 2018, Trump’s DEA also removed registry requirements for hemp growers, as hemp cultivation was legalized under the bipartisan “Farm Bill.”