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Scientists Sue DEA Over Marijuana Cultivation Application Delay



A group of researchers recently filed a lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), asking a federal court to force the agency to respond to its application to manufacture marijuana for research purposes.

The researchers argued that cannabis produced by the only federally authorized cultivation facility at the University of Mississippi is of poor quality and inadequate for their clinical trial on the use of marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans.

It’s an argument that’s supported by a recent study, which found that cannabis from the sole approved source is genetically closer to hemp than it is to marijuana that’s available to consumers in state-legal markets—calling into question the applicability of much research to the reality of the cannabis market.

The Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) said it submitted an application to cultivate its own cannabis to DEA about three years ago, around the time that the agency announced that it would be accepting applications for additional research-grade marijuana manufacturers. That application—as well as several letters from members of Congress inquiring about the application process—have gone ignored, SRI said.

“While most states in the U.S. recognize that cannabis has medical value, the DEA says otherwise, pointing to the absence of clinical research,” Sue Sisley, principal researcher at SRI, said in a press release. “But at the same time, government regulations and bureaucracy prevent researchers like SRI from ever doing the clinical research the DEA has overtly demanded.”

Sisley said SRI hoped that DEA would accept additional manufacturer applications before this summer but that “there’s been no progress, despite years of lobbying, so we are now seeking a remedy through the courts.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 11.

“DEA’s delay in noticing or responding to SRI’s application is unlawful, unreasonable, and egregious,” SRI wrote in a summary of its argument. “It contravenes the letter and spirit of the [Controlled Substances Act], seriously harms SRI, and hampers SRI’s efforts to help suffering veterans through clinical research.”

“Everyone—including the agency—agrees that this research is important and that the need for research generally is urgent,” they wrote. “Here, DEA can act with little expenditure of resources.”

SRI also included Attorney General William Barr in its suit. He’s repeatedly said that he supports expanding cannabis research opportunities and would look into the status of DEA’s application process, which was reportedly inhibited by the Department of Justice under his predecessor Jeff Sessions.

The group asked the court to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the attorney general, DEA or its acting administrator to issue a ‘notice of application’ within three months of the petition’s filing.

In a separate case, a federal appeals court said in May that DEA must “promptly” consider rescheduling marijuana after a coalition of patients and advocates sued the agency, arguing that they were worried DEA would “not move quickly enough to afford them adequate relief.” While the court didn’t rule in favor of the plaintiffs, it handed them a procedural victory by keeping the case open until DEA takes appropriation action.

Read the full petition in the new lawsuit on the stalled marijuana cultivation application below:

2019-06-11 – Amended Petiti… by on Scribd

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Photo courtesy of Nicholas C. Morton.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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