Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jeff Sessions at odds with DEA on marijuana research

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stopped the Drug Enforcement Administration from approving dozens of requests to grow marijuana for research purposes. The move comes as President Trump's patience for Jeff Sessions continues to wear thin.

When it comes to medical cannabis the Attorney General's ideas are at odds with the President's.

The DEA has 25 proposals to consider, but officials need the Justice Department’s approval to move forward. Unfortunately, Sessions has not budged.

“They’re sitting on it,” said one law enforcement. “They just will not act on these things.”

The Justice Department has effectively shut down a program that would enhance medical knowledge and expand access to compassionate medical care.

Lauren Ehrsam, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

One applicant still waiting on approval from the DEA is Lyle Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For nearly a decade, Craker has sought approval to do research into whether other parts of marijuana plants have medicinal value.

“I’ve filled out the forms, but I haven’t heard back from them. I assume they don’t want to answer,’’ Craker said. “They need to think about why they are holding this up when there are products that could be used to improve people’s health. I think marijuana has some bad effects, but there can be some good, and without investigation we really don’t know.’’

Craker submitted his latest application Feb. 14 and supplied additional information in April after getting additional questions from the DEA in March.

Brad Burge, spokesman for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, said that the federal government has long stifled important research into marijuana.

“That’s a sad state of affairs,’’ he said. “If the DEA is now asking for permission to say yes, then the resistance is now further up the chain of command.’’

The Justice Department has not rejected any of the applications to grow that the DEA is considering. But, the department refuses to take any action at all, which stops the DEA from assessing each applicant and determine whether their facility is secure and whether they had previously been complying with federal law.

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