On August 18th, MMJ BioPharma Cultivation Inc., a Medical Marijuana research company, filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals For the District of Columbia against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Rhode Island to compel them to issue a determination on their application for manufacturing and research registration. The suit alleges that MMJ filed for the DEA registration nearly five years ago and over a year since the DEA’s last investigation required for final approval.
The lawsuit claims this is a result of the DEA’s failure to comply with the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (MCREA), which was signed into law in December of 2022 by President Biden, according to the suit, “which – in theory – made the approval process for research faster and mandated DEA application responses within 60 days. The MCREA directs the DEA to follow procedures specified within the Act to expedite registrations for practitioners and institutions for the purpose of conducting research.”
What is the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (MCREA)?
The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (MCREA) was signed into law in December 2022 by President Biden. This legislation was passed to help speed up the research process for medical marijuana and cannabidiol products. The MCREA directs the DEA to follow procedures specified within the Act to expedite registrations for practitioners and institutions for research in this area.
The MCREA also requires the DEA to respond to registration applications promptly, with a deadline of 60 days for their response. This would ensure that research can be done quickly and more efficiently without unnecessary delays from governmental agencies. The Act also requires the DEA to issue a final determination on all pending registrations within 90 days of the date they received the application or 15 days after a writ is issued.
The MCREA clearly states that no federal agency can interfere with research into medical marijuana and cannabidiol products, further supporting MMJ International Holdings’ lawsuit against the DEA.
Details of the Suit Against the DEA
MMJ International Holdings alleges that, despite filing for a DEA registration nearly five years ago and the subsequent year-long investigation conducted by the agency, they are still waiting to receive a response or determination from the DEA. This blatant disregard of federal law clearly violates The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (MCREA) and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
The delay in the DEA’s response has hampered MMJ International Holding’s ability to produce the correct strains approved by the FDA for their gel capsules, which are intended to help alleviate Huntington’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. The company is also concerned that due to this delay, they may miss out on potential research opportunities with other government agencies.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to compel the DEA to issue a final determination on MMJ International Holdings’ application within 15 days and a declaratory judgment that the agency’s delay violates both the CSA and MCREA. MMJ International Holdings’ legal team also requests that the court issue a writ of mandamus, commanding the DEA to make a final determination on their application.
The lawsuit is not only about protecting MMJ International Holding’s rights and investments but also about ensuring that research into medical marijuana and cannabidiol products is done in accordance with federal law and without unnecessary delays from governmental agencies. MMJ International Holdings is hopeful that this legal action will provide much-needed clarity and expedite the process of relieving millions of Americans dealing with debilitating conditions.
Below is a copy of the entire suit.
The DEA’s Response: Delays, Lack of Communication, and Regulatory Failures
The DEA’s response to the lack of application approval has been one of delays, lack of communication, and regulatory failures. The agency refused to comment on how long it would take for them to decide on MMJ International Holdings’ application or why they had yet to respond after five years. This indicates that the agency is either unable or unwilling to address the underlying issues at hand and abide by the laws outlined in the MCREA and CSA.
The DEA’s lack of communication and adherence to federal law is not an isolated incident. Many other cannabis businesses have experienced similar delays when attempting to obtain necessary licenses and permits from the agency. This has led many people to question whether or not the agency is truly committed to progressive cannabis policies or if they are talking a big game without taking any action.
It is clear that the DEA’s lack of response and failure to adhere to applicable laws has hindered MMJ International Holdings’ ability to produce the correct strains approved by the FDA for their medical gel capsules.
The lawsuit could set a precedent for other cannabis businesses experiencing similar regulatory delays, as well as provide insight into how committed the federal government truly is when it comes to progressive cannabis policies.
DEA Dragging Their Feet on Cannabis Policies in Nothing New
The DEA’s lack of response and failure to abide by applicable laws is not unique to MMJ International Holdings. There have been multiple examples of the agency dragging its feet regarding progressive cannabis policies. For instance, in 2016, the agency received 37 applications for growing marijuana for medical research but failed to act on any of them until 2020 — a delay of four years.
The University of Mississippi was, at the time, the only federally approved source for cannabis research since 1968. However, the quality of the university’s cannabis was not representative of what people are actually consuming today, making it difficult to obtain any useful information from those studies. This raised questions about why the DEA has failed to approve other sources of cannabis for research and why the agency allowed this outdated program to remain in place.
This lawsuit brought forth by MMJ International Holdings could be a crucial step towards getting the agency to take action on the issue and ensure that research into medical marijuana and cannabidiol products is done in accordance with federal law.
As more states continue to legalize cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes, the DEA must be held accountable for its inaction on the issue. The lawsuit could provide a much-needed starting point for reform within the agency, helping to expedite the process of giving relief to millions of Americans dealing with debilitating conditions.
It remains to be seen how the agency will respond to this lawsuit and if they will finally take action on progressive cannabis policies. Whatever the outcome, MMJ International Holdings’ legal action is a welcome step in the right direction towards promoting research and creating effective policy solutions around medical marijuana product.