The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants the U.S. government to grow almost 1,500 pounds of marijuana this year.
In a notice expected to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, the agency is increasing — for the second time this year — the amount of cannabis it wants the feds to produce in 2015.
The agency initially projected a quota of 125,000 grams for the year, but upped that amount to 400,000 grams in April. After receiving comments from the public on that proposal — including from an institution of higher education and two companies which it did not name — DEA has now decided it wants the feds to cultivate 658,000 grams of cannabis in 2015.
The increased quota — which is more than five times the amount of marijuana DEA initially thought was needed — is “intended to provide for the estimated scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States,” says the Federal Register notice signed by Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.
Researchers at the University of Mississippi grow marijuana for research purposes under a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). It is the only federally-legal source of cannabis in the United States.
In the earlier April proposal, Rosenberg’s predecessor, Michele Lenohart, said that since first authorizing the 125,000-gram limit, DEA received notice from NIDA “that it required additional supplies of marijuana to be manufactured in 2015 to provide for ongoing and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana.”
Leonhart’s also wrote that “research and product development involving cannabidiol [CBD] is increasing beyond that previously anticipated.”
Interest in CBD-rich strains of marijuana has skyrocketed as media coverage featuring children who use the drug to treat severe epilepsy has spurred a growing number of states to pass laws allowing for limited access. The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment this month to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state laws aimed at providing access to CBD medicines.
The DEA also significantly increased its annual marijuana production quota last year, from an initial proposed amount of 21,000 grams to 650,000 grams.