May 23, 2019 | Updated: 11:35 AM EDT

The DEA Wants More Marijuana and Less Opioids

May 10, 2019 08:29 AM EDT

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It is well known that the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA, is not a particularly avid backer of the cultivation and legalization of marijuana. However, in a new Federal Register filing set to soon be published, the anti-drug agency is gearing up to increase the total amount of cannabis that can legally be grown in the US for research purposes. The increase is rumored to be more than fives times the amount of what is allowed at the current date, which is approximately 1,000 pounds and will increase to roughly 5,400 pounds by next year.

Meanwhile, the DEA is also planning to lessen the amount of certain opioid drugs-such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl and others-that are manufactured in the United States. "We've lost too many lives to the opioid epidemic and families and communities suffer tragic consequences every day," DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a press release. "This significant drop in prescriptions by doctors and DEA's production quota adjustment will continue to reduce the amount of drugs available for illicit diversion and abuse while ensuring that patients will continue to have access to proper medicine."

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an adamant rival of marijuana ratification, added that "the opioid epidemic that we are facing today is the worst drug crisis in American history... Cutting opioid production quotas by an average of ten percent next year will help us continue that progress and make it harder to divert these drugs for abuse."

The suggested distributions for cannabis and other drugs "reflects 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.

The 2,450,000 grams of marijuana the agency wants the US to grow in 2019 is a significant jump from the 443,680 grams the agency authorized for 2018.

In addition to the surge in marijuana agriculture, the DEA is also proposing to permit the manufacture of 384,460 grams of tetrahydrocannabinols or THC, in 2019, essentially the same amount the agency approved for this year. The DEA's huge increase in marijuana production quotas for 2019 could be a sign that it anticipates eventual approval of some of the additional grower applications.

"While the drastic increase in requested production of marijuana by the DEA is a positive sign, significant barriers still exist including but not limited to the NIDA monopoly on cultivation and undue hurdles for researchers to qualify for a permit," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in an interview. "It's time that Congress look at the 28,000 plus peer-reviewed studies currently hosted on the National Institute of Health's online database and reform federal law by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act all together."

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