U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Ups Marijuana for Research

man looks at marijuana for research

WASHINGTON — The United States Drug Enforcement Administration wants the government to grow five times the amount of marijuana for research, according to Forbes.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department also announced a proposal that would decrease the production of controlled substances such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The press release was published Aug.16 and aims to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions that are filled by one-third over a three-year period while increasing marijuana production.

The proposed decrease in manufacturing quotas are for the opioids most commonly abused, and the DEA hopes that by decreasing the percentage of drugs in circulation, they can combat addiction and drug trafficking. The agency plans to have approved facilities cultivate 5,400 pounds of marijuana in 2019, a large increase from the 1,000 pounds cultivated in 2018.

At Least 72,000 People Died Last Year from Opioid Overdoses in the U.S. – Marijuana for Research Could Help

The Acting Administrator for the DEA, Uttam Dhillon, hopes the reduction of opioid production will help to fight the opioid epidemic plaguing the country. A 2014 study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with legal medical marijuana had an almost 25 percent lower death rate from opioid overdoses than non-medical marijuana states. At least 72,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017 with almost 30,000 of the deaths attributed to fentanyl.

"We've lost too many lives to the opioid epidemic and families and communities suffer tragic consequences every day. This significant drop in prescriptions by doctors and DEA's production quota adjustment will continue to reduce the amount of drugs available for illicit diversion and abuse while ensuring that patients will continue to have access to proper medicine," said Dhillon.

The decision to allow more marijuana cultivation from approved government facilities is a drastic reversal ffor the DEA. The agency denied a proposal to reclassify marijuana in 2016 so that it could be studied for its research potential.

However, states legalizing medical marijuana are discovering the health benefits of marijuana, including its ability to help addicts detox from opioids. Marijuana helps to decrease withdraw symptoms for addicts as well as heal the diseased brain tissue damaged by opiates. Marijuana can also help to keep addicts from relapsing because it can help to reduce an addict's cravings for opioids.

The DEA says that marijuana and opioid quotas proposed will allow for a sufficient number of controlled substances needed to adequately meet the export, industrial, medical, scientific, and research needs of the country annually.