The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recently announced its decision to increase the production of several Schedule I substances, including THC, psilocybin, and DMT.
The assessment will raise the original 2024 quotas for these drugs to accommodate the increasing interest in medical and scientific research.
The DEA operates under a strict and well-established regulatory framework defined by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which classifies drugs under different schedules based on their potential for abuse and dependency.
The CSA can apply to drugs that are medical or recreational. Schedule I drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical uses. Even though medicinal cannabis has been legalized in 34 states and psychedelic-assisted therapy has been legalized in two, these substances are still considered illegal at the federal level since the DEA has yet to acknowledge them as safe and effective treatment options.
The DEA’s position of drug enforcement allows them to regulate the production and distribution of controlled substances. Therefore, the agency has a quota system to decide how much of each drug is needed to meet the needs for medical use and research.
Because psychedelics and cannabis have demonstrated promising therapeutic potential over the past few years, the DEA has seen an increased demand from researchers for access to these substances to “meet medical and scientific needs.”
The DEA received almost 4,700 concerns during the public comment period from individuals with certain health conditions, pain advocacy associates, U.S. nurses, and other stakeholders. These comments provided valuable perspectives on how the regulations of controlled substances impacted various communities.
While determining the 2023 aggregate production quotas and annual needs, the DEA considered these comments along with other factors, such as previous data concerning manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of these substances, along with the anticipated medical and scientific needs.
The original production quotas for these substances were already considerably high compared to previous years, as reported by Marijuana Movement. However, the DEA has nearly doubled the allowed production amounts for delta 9 THC to 1.52 million grams and other forms of tetrahydrocannabinol to 1.7 million grams.
Additionally, the limit for psilocybin has been raised to 20,000 grams, up from the proposed 15,000 grams, while DMT has seen a substantial increase to 11,000 grams from the initially suggested 3,000 grams. The production quotas for cannabis and other psychedelic drugs, as originally proposed in November 2023, will remain unchanged.
Nevertheless, their numbers still represent a major rise compared to those set in previous years. The increase in these substances’ quotas follows the same trend as last year’s production levels due to an expanding interest in their therapeutic potential.
As researchers continue to explore the medical potential of cannabis and psychedelics, the DEA’s quota adjustments ensure that there is a sufficient supply of these drugs for medical use and further studies.
“There has been a significant increase in the use of schedule I hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes,” said the agency in an earlier notice. “DEA has received and subsequently approved new registration applications for schedule I researchers and new applications for registration from manufacturers to grow, synthesize, extract.”
The DEA’s adjustments to the quotas acknowledge the growing body of research that supports the therapeutic potential of these substances despite the agency’s history of strict drug laws.
The increased allowance of these substances gives researchers more opportunities to conduct comprehensive clinical trials to explore the potential of psychedelics and cannabis in treating mental health disorders and chronic pain conditions