The Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is forcing the Drug Enforcement Administration to backtrack on a new policy in which the DEA promised to issue more federal permits for scientific research into marijuana.
The DEA’s move a year ago was hailed as a small step in the right direction, since the federal government for decades has blocked any kind of scientific research into possible medicinal benefits of cannabis.
According to The Washington Post, the DOJ has “effectively blocked the (DEA) from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research.”
The report cited U.S. government officials familiar with the situation, but the DOJ had no comment.
Having the Justice Department quash research permits may be one way for the notoriously anti-cannabis Sessions to combat the growing marijuana industry and its slow but steady move into the mainstream.
A DEA spokesman told the Post the agency “has always been in favor of enhanced research” into the effects of controlled substances – including marijuana. However, a senior DEA official said the DOJ’s position has “effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.”
If further scientific research into cannabis is allowed, it would likely help companies craft more precise medical marijuana products and allow them to develop more targeted MMJ-based treatments for various ailments.