US set to expand Marijuana research after years of delay

While Malawi is still contemplating on legalizing the growing of Indian hemp (marijuana) for industrial use, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has said it will move ahead with their long-delayed expansion of its research program on the illegal hemp.

A report by Reuters  says this could be a sign that the President Donald Trump administration’s hostility to the drug may be waning as a growing number of states have legalized its use.

The report says the DEA shall roll out new guidelines that would allow more growers to produce marijuana for scientific and medical research.

In Malawi, a Parliamentary legislator once courted controversy when he suggested in the august House if the government could consider legalising the growing of marijuana to benefit from its export revenue to countries interested to use it for industrial use.

But his suggestion was met with resistance and derision from fellow Parliamentarians and the public at large as he was misunderstood until in recent years when the call to legalize it resurfaced on a different level through interested investors.

While the recent calls have also lost steam, the news that the U.S. is contemplating on expanding the delayed research might inspire the country to legislate the growing of the hemp, that is carried out illegally in most parts of the Central Region.

According to the Reuters report, quoting the DEA’s regulatory filing, the plans from the US could eventually lead to “safe and effective drug products that may be approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration.”

The DEA also said producers of hemp, an industrial form of marijuana that has little psychoactive effect, will not have to get a permit from the agency.

The announcement comes more than three years after the DEA first said in August 2016 that it would expand the number of licensed growers.

The reports says only one producer at the University of Mississippi is currently licensed to produce marijuana but researchers complain that the monopoly has limited the types of cannabis available for study, restricting their ability to learn about the more than 100 chemical compounds in the drug.

“The DEA has yet to take action on the 33 applications it has received since then, as the Trump administration has threatened a crackdown on a drug that is now legal for recreational or medical use in 33 states and the District of Columbia,” the report says.

However, marijuana remains illegal under US federal law, creating legal uncertainty and freezing many businesses out of the banking system.

“The then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors in January 2018 that they could go after marijuana users and producers in states that had legalized the drug, reversing the hands-off position taken by the Obama administration,” continues the report.

“The threat of prosecution has not slowed action at the state level, as eight states have approved marijuana for medical or recreational use since then.

“The legal market is expected to reach $12.4 billion in the United States this year and nearly double in size by 2025, according to New Frontier Data.

“The DEA says 542 people are now registered to conduct research on the drug, up 40 percent from January 2017, and the production quota has more than doubled over that period.

“A wider variety of growers will give those researchers more opportunity, “ says the report, quoting DEA acting administrator Uttam Dhillon.

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