US Government Buys 650 Kilos of Marijuana

Marijuana plant
David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The U.S. government has increased its marijuana order for fiscal year 2014 from 48 pounds to 1,430 pounds, or about 650 kilos, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

Wait, what?! Isn’t the sale and possession of pot still a severely punishable federal felony, except under certain rather loosely defined conditions in states that have more-or-less legalized it?

Yes, it is, but these 1,430 pounds of government-possessed ganja is strictly medicinal-grade, and will be used only for research.

According to a notice published in the May 5, 2014 Federal Register, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was increasing the annual quota of medical marijuana to be produced specifically for the federal government. The up-sized stash will be used by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in its ongoing research on the medical benefits of marijuana.

“The aggregate production quote for marijuana should be increased in order to provide a continuous and uninterrupted supply of marijuana in support of DEA-registered researchers who are approved by the Federal Government to utilize marijuana in their research protocols.”

Apparently, the DEA was not aware NIDA would need so much more pot when it placed its original order for only 48 pounds.

“NIDA recently notified the DEA that it required additional supplies of marijuana to be manufactured in 2014 to provide for current and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana,” stated the notice.

“The DEA was unaware of NIDA’s additional need at the time the initial aggregate production quote for marijuana was established in September 2013.”

In some of its recent actions, the Obama administration seems to be easing the government’s stance against at least limited legalization of marijuana.

Mixed Messages on Pot from the Feds

In September 2013, the Justice Department announced it would not challenge state laws legalizing the possession and use of marijuana, provided the laws prevented prevent marijuana use by minors and similar “adverse” public health and safety consequences.​

Next, in February 2014, the Depts. of Justice and Treasury ruled that for the first time ever, U.S. banks – under similar conditions – will be allowed to provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses.​

But, days later, two U.S. Senators challenged the marijuana banking decision.​

In addition, some Republicans in Congress want the federal laws against pot aggressively enforced or even expanded.

In March 2014, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), introduced the “No Welfare for Weed Act” (H.R. 4142) to prohibit the use of food stamp or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to purchase marijuana.

The bill would add marijuana – including edible pot products – to the list of items that cannot be purchased using food stamps, which now includes alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.

“Regardless of your feelings on States’ Rights, ‘medical’ marijuana or recreational marijuana, people shouldn’t be able to get high using hard-earned taxpayer money,” said Rep.

Gosar in press release.

“Taxpayers expect and deserve a lean, efficient government,” he added. “Accordingly, I will do everything in my power to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse whenever possible, including preventing the use of federal welfare benefits to purchase weed.”