Thanks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we’ve now entered a dark period in the fight for cannabis legalization and everything related to it. And the headline for this day is this: “Justice Department Shuts Down Marijuana Research At DEA.” Well, sort of.
Cannabis Research and the DEA
First, a little background as to why this is happening in the first place. A year ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that they would accept applications for cannabis research, which included the cultivation and growing it for testing it. The reason? To study and analyze the plant, with the hope of understanding and advancing what weed can be utilized for in the medical sector. As of this month, the DEA reported they were considering at least a promising 25 proposals.
As of this month, the DEA reported they were considering at least a promising 25 proposals. To move forward with their intended program, the agency needs to obtain official approval from the Department of Justice. To date, they have not provided it, effectively blocking the research before it begins—and indirectly shutting it down. And to the surprise of no one, it’s the head of the DOJ that’s pulling the strings: Sessions himself.
Sessions’ Bias Blocks Beneficial Research
It’s no surprise that Sessionsis against the DEA’s measures to institute their now-stalled program. The attorney general gained notoriety for his anti-cannabis views. Since he was sworn in earlier this year, Sessions has bashed the scientifically proven fact that weed can curb the current opioid epidemic, used falsified statistics and data to derail legalization in certain states, and headed a report specifically intended to either halt or reverse current legislation that protects legalization and decriminalization in over 22 states. While lawmakers have pushed back against the attorney general’s efforts, there is no indication that he plans to back down anytime soon.
Considering that the DEA is one of the Trump administrators biggest detractors may also contribute to the DOJ’s tactics. As the Washington Post noted, DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg has been open about his opposition to comments made by President Trump concerning police brutality. In a memo to his employees, Rosenberg urged them not to condone Trump’s comments, “because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.”
Sessions’ personal vendetta against decriminalization and legalization is unfortunate for the DEA, who are mostly known for their crackdowns on cannabis rather than efforts in experimentation and development. Rusty Payne, a spokesperson for the DEA, told the press that the federal organization “has always been in favor of enhanced research for controlled substances such as marijuana.’’
Final Hit: Justice Department Shuts Down Marijuana Research at DEA
So, will the headline “Justice Department Shuts Down Marijuana Research at DEA” stick? Unfortunately, the stalemate could last a long time without any mitigating factors. Unless Sessions resigns or is fired—which could still potentially happen—it looks like the DEA is in for a long, long wait.