Members of Congress demand Jeff Sessions approve more growers for marijuana research

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Since taking office in 2017, Jeff Sessions has not been a friend of the legal cannabis industry. From threatening to crack down on retail stores in legal states to refusing to allow more institutions to grow for research reasons, his approach to the industry is forcing members of Congress on both sides to push back.

Two different letters were sent to Sessions on August 31 urging him to approve applications to grow cannabis for research. Sessions announced a new Department of Justice policy in 2016 that would increase the number of institutions that would grow cannabis for research purposes, but two years later, that still has yet to happen.

There is currently only one person in the United States who is allowed to grow cannabis for research purposes and that is Mahmoud ElSohly, a researcher at the University of Mississippi.

“ElSohly’s monopoly, sustained only by the Justice Department’s refusal to approve new applicants, poses an insurmountable obstacle for American academics and drug companies,” writes Mike Riggs for Reason.  

Clinical Trials using ElSohly’s product are not being approved creating a barrier for academics wanting to conduct studies with the products that people are already buying at retail locations all over the United States. As such, politicians are pushing Sessions to make a move.

One of the letters, signed by 15 members of Congress said, “In light of the fact that August 11, 2018 marked two years since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated that they would accept registrations for manufacturers of marijuana for research usage, we write to encourage you to finalize your review of the submitted applications.” Republican Congress members who signed the letter included Carlos Curbelo, Matt Gaetz, Dana Rohrabacher, Don Young, Tom Garrett and Ryan Costello.

The other letter, sent by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Kamala Harrris requested that Sessions finally respond to a letter that was sent earlier in April that asked for a timeline for when the research applications would be approved.

According to Reason, 15 separate letters have been sent to Jeff Sessions by members of Congress about the applications for new cannabis growers, seven of which have been posted publically or shared by those who signed them. Sessions has not responded to any of these letters.

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