Slow walked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice (DOJ), more than 25 federal applications to cultivate cannabis for research purposes have effectively been halted.
After first asking Congress to undo federal medical marijuana protections in May, Sessions is now tackling the root of the problem – scientific research.
Historically, Sessions has been no fan of medical marijuana. When Sessions was questioned by the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing, Sessions noted:
“I will defer to the American Medical Association and the researchers at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere about the medical effects of marijuana. Without having studied the relevant regulations in depth, I cannot say whether they may need to be eased in order to advance research; but, I will review this.”
More than a year ago, when the Atty. Gen. was just Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III from Alabama, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) germinated an application process for cultivators wanting to grow quality cannabis for research purposes. Now a mandated part of the research process, the DEA is required to get approval from the DOJ – and that’s something they’re reluctant to hand over.
According to the Washington Post, the Department of Justice is procrastinating like a petulant child. “They just will not act on these things.” With one senior DEA official informing the Post that “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.”
According to the DEA’s production numbers, federal production quotas for marijuana dropped by 28% between 2016 and 2017.
As a direct consequence of the DOJ’s actions, valuable scientific research into the cannabis plant has been ostensibly hindered — frustrating academics, physicians, and other advocates anxious to know more about the plant’s potential therapeutic applications.
Currently, in the United States, the University of Mississippi is the only institution of higher learning that has been granted permission by the feds to cultivate and distribute medicinal cannabis for research purposes.
Unfortunately, the cannabis grown for research purposes at Ole Miss is hardly qualified for the job, according to Doctor Sue Sisley. Per a March 13 post on Marijuana.com, “Doctor Sue Sisley, a cannabis researcher and recipient of a $2 million grant to study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and marijuana, waited 20 months to receive her first care package of research marijuana last year. When she opened up that package, she didn’t recognize the material: she likened it to green talcum powder.”
With more than 80% of surveyed Americans vigorously supporting medicinal cannabis and elected officials from conservative states pleading for more research, our Atty. Gen., the DOJ, and the US government appear to have systematically undercut any attempt to study the plant in earnest.