The DEA had a chance to reschedule or legalize marijuana in some forms this year, but instead of legalizing they made a few important changes to the drug's regulation. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has had a monopoly over the sole legal source of marijuana being grown at the University of Mississippi, and in their time researching it they have only focussed on the negatives and why the drug should stay illegal, while also stopping any other studies from having access. The FDA requires that any studies done to approve a drug must use the exact same drug that will be marketed to consumers, which forces anyone interested in studying and marketing marijuana to use the supply from the University of Mississippi, which is prohibited. Luckily, the DEA has now authorized other growers to use their marijuana for medical research, removing the long-held restrictions that have kept marijuana in a cage. While the floodgates for research have been lifted, it will still take some time for proper studies to be planned, conducted, and published, as well as upwards of $20 million to fund it.
Now that the DEA has agreed to authorize other growers, research sponsors like MAPS can apply for licenses or contract with new licensees, which will make it possible to ensure that the marijuana used in their studies is the same as the marijuana they plan to make available as a medicine. "What's been so frustrating [is] that, on the one hand, the federal government has said there's not enough evidence to reschedule marijuana," Doblin said, "but on the other hand, they've blocked the ability to get the evidence. And so now that DEA has said that they'll end the NIDA monopoly, that evidence can be gathered....It's going to take four to six years, it could be $15 to $25 million, to gather it. But at least it's possible now, whereas before it was not possible."