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Federal DEA Guidance Impacts Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Research

On August 12, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) published a series of decisions impacting both state and federal medical marijuana law and policy.

  • DEA set forth a new policy permitting new entities to apply for registration as bulk manufacturers of marijuana to supply legitimate researchers, changing a fifty-year policy that permitted only one entity nationwide to do so.
  • The decision to expand the number of entities that can grow and supply research-grade marijuana will substantially affect research operations in Pennsylvania. In particular, while previously the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act was unclear as to how in-state growers could supply marijuana for research purposes without violating the prior DEA policy, now it is clear that in-state growers which successfully register with DEA can provide marijuana for research.
  • At the same time, however, DEA refused to change marijuana’s Schedule I classification status. Marijuana’s Schedule I status, and the current federal approval process for research involving marijuana, function as barriers to research into the potential medical utility of marijuana.
  • DEA’s refusal to reclassify marijuana underscores an ongoing tension between the current state and federal medical marijuana regulatory schemes. Ultimately, DEA’s decision indicates that further research into the medical effectiveness and safety of marijuana is needed. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act provides a critical new funding source to facilitate such research.

In the white paper available for download below, we take a detailed look at DEA's Policy Statement, the consequences for medical marijuana research in Pennsylvania, and the interaction with federal laws.

Click here to download the white paper.


About the Authors

Robin Locke Nagele is a Principal in the firm's Health Care Practice Group. She has a national health care litigation and consulting practice, in which she represents, in complex commercial, regulatory and antitrust matters, proprietary and not-for-profit health care providers, multi-hospital systems, integrated delivery systems, academic/teaching medical centers, and ancillary service providers, along with their medical, executive and corporate leadership.

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