DEA declines to loosen restrictions on medical marijuana

In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015 photo, Ashley Thompson, former high school agriculture teacher and now a grower for Ataraxia, inspects marijuana plants inside the "Mother Room" at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. Marijuana strains with names like Blue Dream, OG Kush, Death Star and White Poison are now being cut and dried, and by mid-October, will be turned into medicine in many forms like oils, creams, buds for smoking, edible chocolates and gummies. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

(CNN) — The Drug Enforcement Agency will announce Thursday that marijuana will remain a schedule 1 drug, which declares it has “no medical use or purpose,” according to a U.S. official familiar with the decision.

The announcement is in response to recent petitions asking the agency to reconsider this designation for the benefit of such research. The DEA will allow more researchers access to the plant in an effort to encourage more study, the source. said.

Since 1968 the University of Mississippi has held the only license issued by the DEA to grow marijuana for research, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Now more universities will be permitted to grow the plant for research.

At least 25 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of medical marijuana for conditions ranging from epilepsy to arthritis.

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