By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
On Friday, May 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston will hear oral arguments in a federal lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration for denying University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker a license to grow marijuana for privately funded medical research.
The arguments culminate nearly 11 years of legal and administrative proceedings trying to end the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) monopoly on the marijuana supply for research.
The lawsuit is in response to an August 15, 2011 final order issued by the DEA rejecting its own DEA Administrative Law Judge's 2007 recommendation that it would be "in the public interest" to grant Prof. Craker the research license. A laboratory at the University of Mississippi, funded by NIDA, is currently the one and only facility in the United States allowed to grow marijuana for research.
Craker is represented in the case by the Washington, D..C., law firm Covington & Burling LLP and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Prof. Craker first applied in June 2001 for a DEA license to start a marijuana production facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under contract to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit research and educational organization whose mission includes developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine.
Prior to Craker's application, NIDA had refused to sell marijuana to two FDA-approved MAPS-sponsored research protocols, preventing the studies from taking place.
In September 2011, NIDA refused to sell marijuana to a third FDA-approved MAPS-sponsored protocol, this one of 50 U.S. veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), preventing it from taking place.
MAPS and Craker are working to open the door for privately funded drug development studies conducted under FDA regulations.
Despite increasingly widespread recognition of marijuana's therapeutic benefits and formal policies in 17 states and the District of Columbia, the federal government still irrationally insists that marijuana is a "dangerous drug" with "no medical value."
Even if MAPS and Craker's efforts to open the door for privately funded, federally regulated nonprofit medical marijuana research are successful it will likely take a decade for marijuana to become an FDA-approved prescription medicine. In the meantime, getting PTSD patients access to the treatments they need will depend on the continuing success of state-based medical marijuana policy reform.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.