DEA Wants More Medical Marijuana, Fewer Opioids To Be Produced In 2019

By Victoria Kim 08/23/18
The new quotas are in line with the federal government's goal of cutting opioid prescriptions by one-third in three years.
A large bud of cannabis in the hands of a male grower

When setting quotas for marijuana and opioid production for 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did the unexpected.

The DEA is raising the quota of cannabis that can be grown in the United States from 1,000 pounds (in 2018) to 5,400 pounds for 2019, Forbes reported.

And in an attempt to push back on the opioid crisis, the agency lowered the production quota of opioids including oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, morphine and fentanyl.

The quotas represent “the total amount of controlled substances necessary to meet the country’s medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks,” the DEA said in a press release.

The opioid quota reductions are in line with the federal government’s goal of cutting opioid prescriptions by one-third in three years.

According to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there’s already been “significant progress” in doing so in the last year.

“Cutting opioid production quotas by an average of 10% next year will help us continue that progress and make it harder to divert these drugs for abuse,” said Sessions, according to High Times.

The DEA’s decision to raise the quota for research cannabis grown in the U.S. is a welcome change for researchers and advocates alike.

Strict regulations surrounding the cultivation and dispensation of research cannabis has made it difficult for the body of research to catch up to the increasing number of states that are “legalizing it” in some form.

The current White House is blamed for stalling progress on this issue. As of July 2018, STAT News reported that the DEA still had not granted additional licenses to cannabis growers, despite a 2016 announcement by the agency that it would be open up the application process to new growers.

It was reported that the directive to stop accepting and processing new applications came from the Department of Justice via Attorney General Sessions.

Sessions had hinted in April that, “fairly soon I believe… we will add additional suppliers of marijuana under controlled circumstances.” But despite this cryptic promise, and calls for change from bipartisan lawmakers in Congress, there’s been little movement on the issue.

Perhaps the updated quotas may fill in the demand for research cannabis, though pain patients will no doubt worry about how lower opioid production will affect them.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr