DEA Continues to Prioritize Efforts to Expand Access to Marijuana for Research in the United States


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  On May 14, 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration took an important step to increase opportunities for medical and scientific research.  DEA is nearing the end of its review of certain marijuana grower applications, thereby allowing it to soon register additional entities authorized to produce marijuana for research purposes.  Currently, the National Center for the Development of Natural Products at the University of Mississippi is the only approved supplier of marijuana for research purposes in the United States, and that production has been exclusively for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Pending final approval, DEA has determined, based on currently available information, that a number of manufacturers’ applications to cultivate marijuana for research needs in the United States appears to be consistent with applicable legal standards and relevant laws.  DEA has, therefore, provided a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to these manufacturers as the next step in the approval process.

On December 18, 2020, DEA finalized new regulations pertaining to applications by entities seeking to become registered with DEA to grow marijuana as bulk manufacturers for research purposes.  Under these and other applicable regulations, applicants are responsible for demonstrating they have met various requirements, including requirements to possess appropriate state authority, document that their customers are licensed to perform research, and employ adequate safeguards to prevent diversion.

At this time, DEA has presented those manufacturers referenced above, who appear to meet the legal requirements, with an MOA outlining the means by which the applicant and DEA will work together to facilitate the production, storage, packaging, and distribution of marijuana under the new regulations as well as other applicable legal standards and relevant laws.

To the extent these MOAs are finalized, DEA anticipates issuing DEA registrations to these manufacturers.  Each applicant will then be authorized to cultivate marijuana – up to its allotted quota – in support of the more than 575 DEA-licensed researchers across the nation.  As individual manufacturers are granted DEA registrations, that information will be made available on DEA’s Diversion Control website.

DEA will continue to prioritize efforts to evaluate the remaining applications for registration and expects additional approvals in the future.