The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is pushing to increase the amount of cannabis grown for research purposes while reducing the opioids produced in the country.
Each year, the DEA sets production quotas for more than 250 Schedule 1 and 2 controlled substances. These quotas reflect “the total amount of controlled substances necessary to meet the country’s medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks,” the DEA said in a press release.
In a Federal Register filing to be published soon, the DEA has set a quota of about 5,400 pounds of cannabis production in 2019 for U.S. research. That figure is a more than fivefold increase over the approximately 1,000 pounds of cannabis authorized for 2018.
Under federal regulations in place since 1968, all cannabis used in authorized research programs must be produced at a farm at the University of Mississippi. But researchers have said it is too difficult to obtain the cannabis, which is often of low quality when it is available.
In 2016 the DEA approved a process to allow more cultivators to grow cannabis for research. More than 20 facilities have filed applications to become licensed cultivators,