Is the DEA Getting Ready for Federal Cannabis Legalization?
As medical marijuana legalization has steadily spread across 33 states, with 11 states even allowing the sale of recreational cannabis, it seems that federal legalization may soon be on the horizon.
Despite the growing popularity of marijuana, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) chose to maintain marjiuana’s status as a Schedule 1 substance in 2016. This means that marijuana is still viewed as one of the worst drugs in America in the eyes of the federal government. However, the DEA’s recent announcement that they will be requesting 3,200,000 grams (about 7,055 pounds) of marijuana for research and testing has many experts speculating that the department is weighing their options for federal legalization. The department’s requested weed allowance is up 621% from the 450,000 grams used for research in 2018.
While it is too early to say if the increase in marijuana research will ultimately lead to a federal legalization plan, it is likely that the DEA is conducting an in depth consequence-benefit analysis on marijuana. If the United States federal legislature does decide to finally end the era of green-prohibition, they will undoubtedly rely on studies conducted by the DEA when crafting the legalization rollout.
To create this surplus of cannabis, the DEA has announced that it will finally authorize additional licensing applications for new cultivation facilities that will sell directly to the federal government. Until now, The University of Mississippi has been the only cultivation facility licensed to grow marijuana intended to be used for federal research. In 2013, the DEA accepted numerous applications for cultivation licenses, but has not made plans to approve any until now.
When Will Marijuana Be Legalized?
While federal legalization is still objectively a few years down the road, the uptick in federal research into the substance is a good sign that the process may soon be beginning. Any legislative bill to end cannabis prohibition in the United States would need to base its strategy upon the latest in marijuana science and research, so the sudden increase in research by The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is a step in the right direction.
What do you think about the marijuana’s current classification as a Schedule 1 substance? Let us know in the comments below!