The Department of Justice building in the Penn Quarter of Washington D.C.

Tony Webster

Justice Department Allegedly Blocking DEA-Backed Cannabis Research Applications

The Justice Department, at the behest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has actively blocked the Drug Enforcement Agency from moving forward on 25 applications to grow cannabis for research purposes, the Washington Post reports. The DEA began accepting the applications more than a year ago but their consideration requires Justice Department approval and the agency has so far been unwilling to greenlight the program.

“The Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations,’’ an unnamed DEA official said in the report.

Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesperson, claimed the agency “has always been in favor of enhanced research for controlled substances such as marijuana” despite their historical hardline stance on cannabis and cannabis policy.

Last year, Chuck Rosenberg, the acting DEA administrator appointed by President Barack Obama, declined to loosen restrictions and reschedule cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but said the agency supported promoting “legitimate research regarding marijuana and its constituent parts.”

At that time, Rosenberg said the DEA had registered 345 individuals and institutions to study cannabis and cannabinoids.

Brad Burge, spokesperson for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, called the Justice Department interference “a sad state of affairs.”

“If the DEA is now asking for permission to say yes, then the resistance is now further up the chain of command,” he said in an interview with the Post.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the claims.

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