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After years of inactivity, the Drug Enforcement Administration has finally taken steps toward approving more suppliers of medical marijuana for scientific research, but its plan is raising questions about the role that the agency would play.

In a notice issued late last week, the DEA proposed a new rule that would have the agency take on a host of new responsibilities by inserting itself into the supply chain. Specifically, the DEA would control distribution by purchasing crops from manufacturers and shipping them to marijuana researchers. The DEA explained such a step would be necessary to remain in compliance with international treaties.


The move comes four years after the agency indicated it would approve additional applications, but also continued to define marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which means it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value. The classification has frustrated scientists who have called for rescheduling, because this would open the door to additional research.

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