Bipartisan Members of Congress Demand DOJ and DEA Approve more Medical Marijuana Growers

Letter urging changes to the process comes after much delay under previous AG.

Thirty bipartisan Members of Congress are demanding the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approve more facilities to grow marijuana so that research can be conducted into its medical benefits.

Congressmen Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Steve Cohen (D-TN) led the call for reform on the issue.

In a letter, they urged the DOJ to “do whatever you can to speed up and improve the application process… One action which would be beneficial is to act on one of the 26 pending applications to grow cannabis for research purposes.”

They note that while previous inquiries have been made, no response has been given. They also point out that the medical benefits of marijuana have been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which approved a compound from marijuana for medical use.

Swalwell is running for President as are Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who also signed the letter.

Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only institution in the United States allowed to grow marijuana for the purpose of studying it for medical benefits. The small supply of medical marijuana has delayed many academic research projects for years. Additionally, many scientists have criticized the poor quality of the crop that the single facility does grow.

Due to its federal prohibition, the effects of marijuana are poorly understood in contrast to other substances.

Roadblocks Under Sessions

Under previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ barred the approval of growing applications, though he did concede at one point that expanding research might have some merit.

But, Sessions has been a long-time opponent of marijuana reform and did not alter his stance as AG. Under him, the DOJ reversed an Obama-era policy to not enforce prohibition laws in states where it had been legalized.

Moreover, as a Senator from Alabama, Sessions consistently opposed marijuana reform, likening the plant to the far deadlier substance of heroin.

Recently appointed Attorney General William Barr voiced support for allowing medical marijuana research to be conducted during his confirmation hearing.

While the DOJ has remained intransigent on the issue, the DEA has made small concessions toward the study of medical marijuana, including putting the application process online. However, it cannot grant approval of growing applications without the consent of the DOJ.

A number of bipartisan congressional letters have been sent to the DOJ in the past two years urging that the application process for facilities that wish to grow medical marijuana be sped up.

A number of Republican Senators signed onto those letters including Cory Gardner (R-CO), whose state has became a center of the industry as well, as Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who was previously staunchly opposed to any cannabis reform, and former Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

More Cannabis News

While research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis has been hindered by the plant’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act, the amount of cannabis research has increased exponentially since 2000, and the studies that have been completed have made some exciting findings.

You can learn more about the research into marijuana through our education page. For the latest developments related to marijuana reform, follow our news page.