Why is the DEA Stonewalling Clinical Research for Cannabis?

Jul 31, 2019 | Cannabis, Clinical Research, Lawsuit

Why is the DEA Stonewalling Clinical Research for Cannabis?

The U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to explain why it has yet to respond to nearly two dozen clinical researchers around the nation who applied three years ago for a DEA license to grow research cannabis, reports Reason.

What is going on?

Organizations such as the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) have filed lawsuits against the U..S. Justice Department and the DEA. They sought a “writ of mandamus” that would compel the DEA to respond to applicants seeking a license.

The Argument

The Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, signed by then-President Obama in November 2015, requires “that the Attorney General, upon receiving an application to manufacture a Schedule I substance for use only in a clinical trial, publish a notice of application not later than 90 days after accepting the application for filing.”

Reason reports that over 20 other potential cannabis manufacturers applied for licenses from the DEA in 2016, but a notice of their applications has yet to appear in the Federal Register.

Hence, the litigants argue that the agency is unlawfully withholding its services. There was an installed federal directive to prioritize applications relating to clinical research, but agencies are stalling for some reason.

A Political Agenda?

Federal law was crafted by representatives of the people and signed by the President at the time. The executive branch agencies are now stalling, falling short of their duties to support medical clinical research. These lawsuits are quite noteworthy given the lack of domestically grown cannabis suitable for research with human participants, reports Reason. Undoubtedly, there are factions and forces in the executive branch that have no problem delaying what should be a clockwork execution. The U.S. is falling behind on all fronts in the rapidly burgeoning global cannabis market—from industrial hemp and food products to the vast medical research arena. Time to put pragmatism over politics.