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Although Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no friend of the marijuana industry, in his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee the Attorney General presented a different tone.
While speaking before the committee yesterday, Sessions said he wants to see more competition among medical marijuana growers who supply the plant to researchers.
The DOJ has been Preventing the DEA from Researching Cannabis
Although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced plans last year to increase the supply of medical marijuana for research, there has been little movement on this front.
In August, the Washington Post reported that the DOJ effectively blocked the DEA from acting on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana for research purposes.
In 2016, the DEA began to accept applications to cultivate marijuana for research and as of August, had 25 proposals to consider; DEA officials, however, have advised that they needed approval from the DOJ to move forward and the department has not been willing to provide it.
A Positive Step for the U.S. Cannabis Industry
The comments made by Attorney General Sessions caught the committee by surprise and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) asked Sessions to clarify the DOJ’s position on applications to supply researchers with medical marijuana.
Senator Hatch co-sponsored the MEDS Act, which is designed to improve the process for conducting research on medical marijuana.
While speaking to the committee, Sessions said that he wants a limited expansion of this program. He does not want the DOJ to approve all 26 applications, and raised questions about how much it would cost the DEA to oversee the operations.
Are the Tides Changing for the U.S. Medical Marijuana Industry?
Although the comments made by Attorney General Sessions are a step in the right direction, we need to see Congress renew the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. The amendment governs the DOJ’s approach to medical marijuana and prevents the department from spending money to prosecute medical marijuana operations that comply with state law.
The legal medical marijuana train has left the station and it would cost too much money to try and roll it back. The United States is facing a massive debt pile and states need to find new revenue streams and medical marijuana would certainly serve that purpose.
We are favorable on the implications that these comments have on the medical marijuana industry in the United States and will keep an eye on how this impacts publicly traded marijuana companies.