The Santa Cruz-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) will be taking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to federal court for upholding a monopoly on research marijuana, and for blocking valuable medical research into the benefits of the herb that could save many lives.
On August 15, the DEA issued its final order, rejecting the 2007 recommendation from their own Administrative Law Judge, Mary Ellen Bittner, that it would be in the public interest to grant University of Massachusetts Professor Lyle Craker a license to grow marijuana for federally-regulated medical research.
This misguided action by the DEA, which came after four long years of waiting, preserves an unconstitutional monopoly held by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the supply of marijuana for medical research. The DEA’s strategy appears to be to delay their responses for as long as possible, and to block research that demonstrates any medical benefits of cannabis.
The final order by the DEA allows them to block medical studies with cannabis that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved, despite the Obama administration’s stated commitment to prioritize science over politics when it came to medical marijuana.
For example, the proposed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) study with cannabis that I reported on back in May, with 50 war veterans who suffer from chronic, treatment- resistant PTSD is at a standstill--despite the fact that the study was approved by the FDA--because NIDA is blocking the study by not allowing the researchers to purchase marijuana.
At this point the mountain of evidence for the medical benefits of cannabis is simply exploding through the roof, and more and more states are continuing to legalize cannabis for medical use, so the federal government’s draconian position on medical marijuana and their blockade on research is beginning to look more and more ridiculous. Even President Obama appears to be at a loss for words, and doesn’t seem to know what to say about it when he is confronted.
During a Town Hall meeting on August 15 with President Obama, he was asked, “If you can't legalize marijuana, why can’t we just legalize medical marijuana, to help the people that need it?” Obama responded by saying, “Well, you know, a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana. As a controlled substance, the issue then is, you know, is it being prescribed by a doctor, as opposed to, you know--well, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll leave it at that.”
MAPS has received a generous offer for pro-bono legal representation from the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling LLP, one of the foremost law firms representing the pharmaceutical industry.
According to MAPS Director of Communications Brad Burge, “The DEA’s defense of NIDA’s monopoly has blocked privately-funded medical marijuana research for four decades. Now, the gap between what patients and scientists know about marijuana’s medical value and what these agencies are willing to acknowledge is wider than ever. This latest rejection highlights how far these agencies are willing to go to prevent vital research from moving forward.
But there’s good news, too: By showing how far they’ll go to block this research, NIDA and the DEA have inadvertently strengthened our case against the NIDA monopoly. The federal courts are the perfect stage for showing the world that in the centuries-old battle between irrational fear and careful scientific investigation, there is a clear winner.”
To find out more about MAPS, or to make a contribution to help further medical cannabis and psychedelic drug therapy research, see: www.maps.org
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Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, David Jay Brown is a guest editor at MAPS. He edits their annual theme bulletins, and is a strong supporter of the organization.