Document – DEA: Controls To Enhance the Cultivation of Marihuana for Research in the United States


Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice.


Final rule.


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is amending its regulations to facilitate the cultivation of marihuana for research purposes and other licit purposes to enhance compliance with the Controlled Substances Act, including registering cultivators consistent with treaty obligations. This final rule adopts, with minor modifications, the notice of proposed rulemaking published on March 23, 2020, including regulations that govern applications by persons seeking to become registered with DEA to grow marihuana as bulk manufacturers, and regulations related to the purchase and sale of this marihuana by DEA.


This final rule is effective January 19, 2021.


Scott A. Brinks, Regulatory Drafting and Policy Support Section (DPW), Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration; Mailing Address: 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152-2639; Telephone: (571) 362-3261.


Legal Authority and Background

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) requires all persons who seek to manufacture a controlled substance to obtain a DEA registration.[121 U.S.C. 822(a)(1). The CSA defines “manufacture” to include the “production” of a controlled substance, which in turn includes, among other things, the planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting of a controlled substance. 21 U.S.C. 802(15), (22). Thus, any person who seeks to plant, cultivate, grow, or harvest marihuana 2 3Start Printed Page 82334to supply researchers or for other uses permissible under the CSA (such as product development) must obtain a DEA manufacturing registration. Because marihuana is a schedule I controlled substance, applications by persons seeking to become registered to manufacture marihuana are governed by 21 U.S.C. 823(a). See generally 76 FR 51403 (2011); 74 FR 2101 (2009), pet. for rev. denied, Craker v. DEA, 714 F.3d 17 (1st Cir. 2013). DEA’s Administrator has the authority to grant a registration under section 823(a). To do so, the Administrator must determine that two conditions are satisfied: (1) The registration is consistent with the public interest (based on the enumerated factors in section 823(a)), and (2) the registration is consistent with U.S. obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 (“Single Convention” or “Treaty”), 18 U.S.T. 1407.[4]

In 2016, DEA issued a policy statement aimed at expanding the number of manufacturers who could produce marihuana for research purposes. See Applications to Become Registered under the Controlled Substances Act to Manufacture Marijuana to Supply Researchers in the United States, 81 FR 53846 (Aug. 12, 2016). Subsequently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) undertook a review of the CSA, including the requirement of section 823(a) that a registration to bulk manufacture a schedule I or II controlled substance must be consistent with United States obligations under international treaties such as the Single Convention, and determined that certain changes to its 2016 policy were needed. As part of this review, in June 2018, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) prepared an opinion (“OLC Opinion”), now publicly available, examining DEA’s policies and practices for granting bulk manufacturing registrations to marihuana growers in light of the CSA’s requirement that DEA register manufacturers of schedule I and II controlled substances in a manner consistent with the Single Convention.[5]

This rule is being implemented pursuant to the Administrator’s authority under the CSA “to promulgate rules and regulations and to charge reasonable fees relating to the registration and control of the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of controlled substances,” 21 U.S.C. 821, and to “promulgate and enforce any rules, regulations, and procedures which he may deem necessary and appropriate for the efficient execution of his functions under [the CSA],” 21 U.S.C. 871(b).



Marijuana Moment Report & Background

DEA files final cannabis cultivation license rules (Newsletter: December 18, 2020)


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