DEA Proposes Less Opioid Production, More Marijuana for Research in 2020

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proposing a reduction in the amount of Schedule II controlled substances that can be manufactured in the US next year.

According to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the DEA proposes the following cuts in opioid production:

  • 31% reduction of fentanyl
  • 19% reduction of hydrocodone
  • 25% reduction of hydromorphone
  • 9% reduction of oxycodone
  • 55% reduction of oxymorphone

These five controlled substances were chosen based on estimates of diversion in the US; the DEA is required to “make appropriate quota reductions,” in accordance with the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act). These proposed reductions, when combined with morphine, equate to a 53% decrease in allowable opioid production since 2016.

In order to meet research needs, the DEA is also proposing an increase in the amount of marijuana that can be produced (from 2450kg to 3200kg). According to the Agency, since January 2017, the number of individuals conducting research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent. 

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The Proposed Aggregate Production Quotas (APQ) for Schedule I and II controlled substances reflect the total amount of controlled substances necessary to meet the country’s medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year. “The aggregate production quota set by DEA each calendar year ensures that patients have the medicines they need while also reducing excess production of controlled prescription drugs that can be diverted and misused,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “DEA takes seriously its obligations to both protect the public from illicit drug trafficking and ensure adequate supplies to meet the legitimate needs of patients and researchers for these substances.”

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