The DEA has put forward an increased marijuana quota for 2019. The Department is looking at allowing a higher amount of cannabis to be manufactured in the United States in 2019. However, this latest in California weed news does not mean much for California dispensaries, as the proposed quota applies to marijuana grown for research purposes and it is largely controlled by the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Despite cannabis still being listed alongside hard drugs as a Schedule I substance, the U.S Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement has proposed to allow more manufacturing of it in 2019.
What does it mean to be a Schedule I substance in the U.S.A?
It means that the substance cannot officially have any medical properties and it is defined as a substance that has a large risk of abuse. Despite many states having legalized both medicinal and recreational marijuana, it has remained on the list. This has not prevented Proposition 64 to allow many California dispensaries from attaining recreational, medicinal or both types of licenses to sell marijuana.
What Does Schedule I Mean?
The DEA states that a Schedule I substance is classified as drugs that carry a high risk for abuse and “the potential to create psychological and/or physical dependence.”
Substances can be removed from the list, or rescheduled if a petition is made. Naturally, many petitions have been made yet marijuana has remained steadfast as a schedule I substance.
How Are The Substances Categorized?
According to the DEA, substances are scheduled depending on their rate of dependency, the potential of medicinal usage and also how likely they are to be abused.
What other substances are listed as Schedule I?
Marijuana shares space on this list with LSD, heroin, methaqualone, and ecstasy. This is despite reports claiming both science and FDA say Cannabis hold medicinal potential.
While marijuana has been on the Schedule I list since 1970, cocaine is classified as less dangerous as it sits on the schedule II list.
The DEA was established by President Nixon in 1970 and there are reports that share secret tapes of his time in the White House where he made it clear that he was aiming at locking down marijuana for the long haul. According to reports, Nixon had a stern stance on marijuana and therefore placed it in the schedule I listing- wanting to prevent the modern day reality of thriving California dispensaries.
Fast forward to the middle of 2018 and the DEA is proposing to increase the amount of the schedule I substance, marijuana, for 2019:
- 2017 quota: 443,680 gr
- proposed 2018 quota: 2,450,000
The War On The Opioid Crisis
While the Department has not shown signs of rescheduling marijuana, the increased quota does spell out the beginning of a long-awaited change. This is good news for those not only involved in the marijuana industry, but also for those affected by the opioid crisis.
The six highest used opioids have received a lower quota, by approximately 10%. This comes in the wakes of the current President’s “Safe Prescribing Plan.”
According to the NIH, approximately 115 people fatally overdosed on opioids every day. That’s every day. These opioids could be anything from heroin to regular prescription pain relievers. Here are some quick facts about the opioid crisis, and why President Trump and the DEA are turning to marijuana to help the problem:
- 21 – 29% of patients using prescribed pain relievers misuse them
- 8 – 12 % of patients go on to have a disorder related to the abuse of opioids
- a further 4 -6 % of those patients misusing the opioids begin using heroin
- approximately 80% of heroin addicts were initially addicted to opioids
- in the time between mid-2016 to mid-2017, opioid overdoses increased by 30% in almost all the states
In March 2017, President Trump established the Presidents Commision in order to combat the opioid crisis in America and the latest proposed quota by the DEA is one step along the path to solving the crisis.
This is the third year that the opioid manufacturing reduction is put in place and is part of President Trump’s three year plan to bring the rate of opioid prescription down by one third in as little as three years.
There has been much contention among reports of the cannabinoids within cannabis, namely CBD and THC, and which should be unrestricted and which are dangerous and/or hole health benefits. While CBD derived from hemp plants has been legalized throughout the country, THC is more restricted due to its psychoactive properties. The conflicting studies and claims for the efficiency of THC, CBD and full spectrum cannabis products have been in the California weed news since the new marijuana movement begun.
The DEA has also proposed that they allow THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), 384,460 gems to be exact, for the following year. This number has not changed and remains the same for 2019 as it was for 2018. With the increased in cannabis manufactured, it is almost as if the THC could have been reduced and is more restricted.
While cannabis rose from half a ton to more than 2, 5 tons, the amount of THC remains the same. This means that the majority of the cannabis manufactured cannot contain THC.
The general increase for marijuana manufacture in 2019 could be a sign that previous legal barriers are being changed to embrace the new era of marijuana use. However, there are still complaints that the NIDA holds a monopoly on this cultivation and scientists struggle to acquire this marijuana for studies. In a statement by NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, he says that the 28, 000 studies hosted on the NIDA should be viewed by Congress and that marijuana should not only be removed from the Schedule I listening, but from the “Controlled Substances Act altogether.”
The public will have access to the proposal once it is published in the Federal Register, and comments can be made for 30 days. After this time, the proposal can be amended before being made final.