State Department: International Treaties Do Not Demand Monopoly On Marijuana Production

Washington, DC: United States treaty obligations do not mandate the federal government to limit marijuana production to a single licensed facility, according to written statements provided by the State Department to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The Department’s statements run counter to opinions expressed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has long alleged that there can only be one federally licensed cultivator of marijuana for research purposes – the University of Mississippi, as overseen by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2011, the DEA rejected an order from its own administrative law judge calling on the agency to issue additional cultivation licenses. The agency claimed that allowing such activity would be “inconsistent with United States obligations under the Single Convention (treaty).”

But in response to an inquiry from Sen. Gillibrand, representatives from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement have now denied the DEA’s claim, stating, “If a party to the Single Convention issued multiple licenses for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, that fact alone would not be a sufficient basis to conclude that the party was acting in contravention of the Convention.”

Following the Department’s admission, Sen. Gillibrand stated, “[T]he DEA should issue new licenses to supply medical researchers and stop letting antiquated ideology stand in the way of modern medical science.”

Under federal regulations, clinical trial protocols involving cannabis must meet approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, the DEA, and NIDA, and they must use source material provided by the University of Mississippi. No other substance, including other schedule I controlled substances, face such severe restrictions.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: or Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500. Additional information is available from Americans for Safe Access at: