The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this week proposed an increase in the production of marijuana and psilocybin that would allow more research into their medical properties and get federally approved medicines to market more quickly.
In a notice published in the Federal Register Thursday, the DEA said it is proposing “significant increases” in the manufacturing of “the schedule I substances psilocybin, psilocin, marihuana, and marihuana extract, which are directly related to increased interest by DEA registrants in the use of hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes.”
This move shows at least a degree of willingness from the leading federal drug enforcement agency to recognize an emerging scientific field and promote studies regardless of the substance’s Schedule I status. It continues steps the organization has been taking recently to give researchers better products for their studies.
Many of those researchers work at colleges and universities, which means they can’t even bring marijuana on campus because it’s federally illegal. This forces them to use government-grown products for study, and there have been many complaints about how government-grown marijuana, for instance, is completely different from anything people are buying in legal states.
“DEA firmly believes in supporting regulated research of schedule I controlled substances,” the notice said. “Therefore, the [Aggregate Production Quota] increases reflect the need to fulfill research and development requirements in the production of new drug products, and the study of marijuana effects in particular, as necessary steps toward potential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drug products.”
This language shows more urgency and seems to reflect a more progressive attitude from the DEA toward the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and marijuana at the same time municipalities across the country are looking into reforming laws governing the substances.
The notice says the DEA now wants to produce 2 million grams of marijuana, or about 4,400 pounds, in 2021, a 500,000-gram increase from its initial quota. And it’s proposing to manufacture 500,000 grams of cannabis extract, more than double the original quota.
The DEA also seriously increased its production goals of psilocybin and psilocin, the key psychoactive elements of magic mushrooms. The initial quota was set at 50 grams for psilocybin, which has been revised to 1,500 grams. The DEA also wants to manufacture 1,000 grams of psilocin instead of just 50 grams as initially proposed. “[This] is directly related to increased interest by DEA registrants in the use of hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes,” the notice said.
A Schedule 1 drug, by definition, has “no currently accepted medical use,” and advocates are still frustrated that these plants and fungi remain in that category in the first place, especially considering continuing research that shows promise for their medical value.
And things could still change. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is proposing a bill to legalize cannabis at the federal level. The DEA decided to end the current monopoly on federally authorized cannabis manufacturing at the University of Mississippi by approving additional growers for research.
A federal appeals court last week dismissed a petition to require the DEA to reevaluate cannabis’s scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, but a judge said in a concurring opinion that the agency may be forced to consider a policy change based on a misinterpretation of marijuana’s therapeutic value. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has questioned the mixed signals the federal government continues to send about marijuana.
This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.