Although much of the cannabis community has been waiting on bended knee, for the past few months, to learn whether the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will downgrade the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant, a recent report over the agency’s proposed cultivation quota for 2017 suggests that no changes will likely be made in the near future.
It seems that the US government’s leading drug controls are planning to produce around 1,041 pounds of research cannabis next year, slightly less than the 1,451 pounds slated for cultivation in 2016, according to Marijuana.com.
The news of this suggested decrease in pot production, which was revealed through an official notice in the Federal Register by acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg, may be an indication that there are no plans to reschedule cannabis like many have been hoping for ever since the agency revealed, earlier this year, that it would make a determination on the issue sometime within the second half of 2016.
The anticipation of the DEA’s potential budge on the Schedule I listing of cannabis has spawned a wealth of speculative articles on the subject, as well as some seemingly bogus Internet tales, like the Santa Monica Observer’s “U.S. Gov’t Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1.” The best intel we have on the matter comes from DEA staff coordinator Russ Baer, who says the federal government is having a difficult time resolving the issue of a Schedule downgrade because its agencies have yet to “identify the parts of the plant that might have benefit.”
And while no one is certain what the DEA is going to decide, its track record for denying rescheduling requests, along with the latest plan to ramp down cannabis production, is a relatively solid indicator that the agency is soon planning to disappoint proponents of the marijuana movement by refusing to admit that cannabis has actual medicinal value.
“Putting cannabis in Schedule II or lower would likely lead to an increase in the number of scientists applying and being approved to study it,” explains Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, in his analysis of the situation. “That DEA is anticipating a reduced need for marijuana research supplies next year could be a sign that the agency has decided against rescheduling.”
However, there is a possibility that the notice alluding to a diminishing production quota has absolutely nothing to do with the DEA’s coming rescheduling announcement. That’s because the proposed quota, which the agency admits to padding by 25 percent to account for unforeseen events such as a “natural disaster,” will not be finalized until after the August 22, 2016 deadline the agency has given the public to respond to its intentions. The DEA is rather infamous for making projections well beneath the amount of marijuana the agency eventually says will be produced. As Angell points out, the DEA raised its final cannabis production quota by 533,000 grams from its initial projections in 2015.