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What’s the DEA’s Announcement Mean for the Future of Cannabis Research?

When the DEA said it would open up cannabis licenses for producers, it sounded like a saving grace for pot research in America. But a look at past history begs the question, “is it just the latest obstacle?”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recently announced plans to expand cannabis research in the U.S. In late August, after a years-long hiatus in communications between the agency and potential growers, federal officials said they would soon resume contact with groups that have applied to register to manufacture cannabis for researchers.

The DEA said it hopes the addition of qualified applicants will increase the variety of researchable marijuana. Since 1968, due to antiquated federal regulations and a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only the University of Mississippi has been allowed to cultivate and provide cannabis to medical researchers across the country. As an added complication, the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same classification as LSD, heroin, and methamphetamine.

However, marijuana advocates say the agency’s announcement last month is its latest in a series of stall tactics. It’s the second time in more than three years that the agency has attempted a similar bluff, advocates say — and the third time in more than a decade. In that time researchers have been provided material that looks more like “lawnmower clippings” than quality cannabis, says researcher Sue Sisley, who leads the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona. That’s why their group filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals in June seeking to speed up the agency’s process of reviewing and issuing licenses. The DEA had until August 28th to respond. They made the cut by three days. [Read more @ Rolling Stone]

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