DEA Notice Shows Increase in Research Amounts for THC, Psilocybin, DMT, and More

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) posted a notice on the Federal Register on Jan. 3, which includes the most recent breakdown of Schedule I Substances in its 2024 aggregate production quotas (APQ), as well as a wide variety of public comments and DEA responses.

According to a Federal Register article published in November 2023, delta-9 THC (referred to as “d-9-THC” on the list) included a proposed amount of 900,610 grams for 2024. Now, the 2024 APQ includes a delta-9 THC of 1,523,040 grams. In comparison to last year, the established quota for delta-9 THC in 2023 was listed at 384,460 grams, while the revised quota amount was increased to 628,460.

According to the same November 2023 Federal Register article, the proposed amount of “all other tetrahydrocannabinol” was listed at 790,010 grams. Now, the 2024 APQ lists the THC quota at 1,166,130 grams. In an October 2023 APQ adjustments report, the DEA listed general THC at 15,000 for 2023 established quotas, and 350,000 for proposed revised 2023 quotas.

The DEA also included a request for 20,000 grams of psilocybin (which was established in October at 8,000 grams but increased to 15,000 grams). DMT (5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) was also listed at 3,000 grams in October and November 2023, but was updated to reflect an increase to 11,000 grams in the most recent January 2024 report.

Production goals for other substances such as marijuana (6,675,000 grams), marijuana extract (1,000,000 grams), psilocin (24,000 grams), ibogaine (150 grams), MDMA (12,000 grams), and mescaline (1,200 grams) saw no changes between November 2023 and now. Over time, the DEA has gradually increased the quota for many of these substances due to increased interest.

In the November report, the DEA explained its expectation for this trend. “There has been a significant increase in the use of schedule I hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes,” the DEA wrote. “DEA has received and subsequently approved new registration applications for Schedule I researchers and new applications for registration from manufacturers to grow, synthesize, extract, and prepare dosage forms containing specific Schedule I hallucinogenic substances for research and clinical trial purposes.”

The public comment portion of the report was compiled of 4,699 public comments “from DEA registrants, people with chronic pain, patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pain advocacy associations, U.S. professional associations, U.S. nurses, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Australian ADHD Professionals Association, the ADHD Foundation Australia, and others.” Those comments varied in topic, from opioid drug shortages, stimulant drug use in both the U.S. and Australia, and more.

In one of the comments, three manufacturers requested that the proposed APQ for “dexmethylphenidate (for conversion), lisdexamfetamine, and psilocybin be established at sufficient levels for manufacturers to meet medical and scientific needs.” Additionally, the DEA also received quota applications “for 4-Anilino-N-phenethyl-4piperidine (4-ANPP), all other tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol, dimethyltryptamine, fentanyl and pentobarbital.”

Another public comment referred to the religious use of Schedule I substances (specifically “psilocin, psilocybin, mescaline, ibogaine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 2-(4-Iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl) ethanamine (2CI), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 5-methoxy-NN dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT)”). In one case, the Native American Church requested that the APQ for mescaline (aka peyote) be increased for their use, and allow its planting in the wild due to shortages. The commenter claimed that the DEA “has disregarded their legal religious use of psychedelics as a factor when setting the production quotas of these substances,” and requested a hearing if the agency does not grant their requests. The DEA’s response didn’t address the statement, and only wrote that the DEA has worked with indigenous communities in the past.

Another request included listing the fruiting bodies that contain psilocybin and psilocin, as well as “peyote buttons containing mescaline,” in the quotas, rather than just the pure chemicals. However, the DEA responded by stating that the APQ listings are based on the Controlled Substances Act and it will continue to label them in accordance with the act. Also technically, peyote is categorized separately from mescaline.

The DEA recently issued a warning to the state of Georgia for independent pharmacies selling low-THC cannabis oil products. “All DEA registrants, including DEA-registered pharmacies, are required to abide by all relevant federal laws and regulations,” a letter sent to pharmacies in December 2023 stated. “A DEA-registered pharmacy may only dispense controlled substances in Schedules II-V of the Controlled Substances Act. Neither marijuana nor THC can lawfully be possessed, handled, or dispensed by any DEA-registered pharmacy.”

Georgia pharmacies officially began selling low-THC cannabis oil in October 2023. At the time, only three pharmacies received a license to sell cannabis with less than 5% THC, although there are more than 400 independent pharmacies that could be a part of the program throughout the state.

With substances like fentanyl rising as one of the most common sources of overdose death last year, it’s imperative that research on the benefits of cannabis, psilocybin, DMT, continue to progress.

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