SCIENTISTS SAY MARIJUANA RESEARCH BLOCKED
WASHINGTON - The government is violating federal law by obstructing
medical marijuana research, scientists contend in lawsuits seeking
faster action on applications to grow the drug.
In lawsuits to be filed Wednesday, researchers assert that Washington
is refusing to act on legitimate research projects and delaying
studies that could lead to marijuana's use as a prescription drug.
"There is an urgent need for an alternative supply of marijuana for
medical research," said Lyle Craker, director of the Medicinal Plant
Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the main force
behind the lawsuits.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the Health and Human
Services Department, "maintains a monopoly on research marijuana. Many
researchers believe that NIDA's monopoly is an obstacle to getting
needed studies done on a timely basis," Craker said in a statement.
The lawsuits, which target the Drug Enforcement Administration, HHS,
NIDA and the National Institutes of Health, are being filed in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Joining Craker in filing the suit are Rick Doblin, president of the
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Valerie
Corral, co-founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in
Santa Cruz, Calif., who uses marijuana to control epileptic seizures.
"As a patient, each day brings new struggles," she said in a
statement. "Instead of providing relief for critically ill Americans,
our government refuses to allow the research that would free sick and
dying members of our collective from living in fear of an
administration that views medical assistance as criminal activity."
The case claims an unreasonable delay in acting on a three-year-old
application by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to grow
marijuana for federally approved researchers.
Scientists also want the government to act on a year-old application
by Chemic Laboratories in Canton, Mass., to import 10 grams of
marijuana from Dutch authorities for research into a device called the
Volcano Vaporizer. The device potentially offers a nonsmoking way to
deliver the medicinal value of marijuana.
"Every day DEA delays the applications necessary to initiate research
is another day that the patients with illnesses susceptible to
treatment using marijuana must either suffer otherwise remediable
pain, or risk arrest to use marijuana as medicine," said the
scientists behind the suits.
DEA spokesman Ed Childress said the agency won't discuss pending
All marijuana for research in the United States must come from a crop
grown on a federally contracted farm in Mississippi. That product has
been only "inconsistently available to researchers and is infamous for
its low quality," the researchers contend.