The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Thursday revealed a long-awaited final rule aimed at expanding the number of authorized growers of marijuana to be used in scientific research.
In a notice set to be formally published in the Federal Register on Friday, the agency said it made “minor modifications” from the initial proposed rule on licensing cannabis manufacturers it released in March.
DEA responded to numerous public comments it received since then, breaking them down into eight categories: application process and criteria; quality of marijuana; federal agency obligations pertaining to cannabis controls; the meaning of ‘medical cannabis;’ security costs and requirements applicable to the manufacture of marijuana; harvest; cost, pricing and fees of marijuana for DEA registrants and comments outside of the agency’s scope.
Here’s an overview of some of the most notable responses and regulatory amendments in the new DEA filing:
-Many commenters argued that DEA should not disqualify applicants who’ve grown marijuana in compliance with state law. The agency responded that it is statutorily bound to consider instances where an applicant violated federal law—something that all state-legal marijuana cultivation businesses do—and it would continue to do so. “While the DEA Administrator has discretion to weigh the statutory factors and any one factor need not be dispositive, an applicant’s prior compliance with Federal law is a relevant consideration when determining whether to grant an application for registration,” the notice states.
-Relatedly, the agency responded to comments pushing it to factor in an applicant’s ability to produce “high quality” marijuana and their past experience cultivating the plant. It simply said that applicants are judged based on public interest and compliance with international treaties. “Under those factors, DEA will consider the applicant’s ‘past experience in the manufacture of controlled substances’ and its ‘promotion of technical advances in the art of manufacturing these substances.’”
-DEA also said it would not be allowing researchers to obtain marijuana products from state-legal cannabis businesses. It cited international treaty obligations and federal statutes, as well as public safety considerations. The agency also said that extending that access is “unnecessary” since it will be expanding the number of DEA-registered manufacturers.
Published: December 17, 2020
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