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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    A University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor says he's dropping his nearly decade-long fight to persuade the government to let him grow marijuana in bulk for medical research.

    Horticulturist Lyle Craker wanted to cultivate marijuana to boost research into the plant's potential medicinal benefits. But he's been rebuffed — even as more than a dozen states have legalized medical marijuana.

    Craker, 70, said he saw no end in sight to the legal wrangling, given the likelihood of an appeals process that could run several years, or even decades. He was frustrated, too, that he never got a hoped-for boost from the Obama administration.

    "I'm disappointed in our system," he said. "But I'm not disappointed at what we did. I think our efforts have brought the problem to the public eye more. ... This is just the first battle in a war."

    Craker, who said he has never smoked marijuana, launched his challenge to the government's monopoly on growing and distributing research marijuana in 2001. A lab at the University of Mississippi is the government's only marijuana-growing facility.

    Craker contends that the government-grown pot lacks the potency medical researchers need for breakthroughs. He said there isn't enough of the drug freely available for scientists across the country.

    "I'm disappointed mostly because of all the patients who could potentially benefit," he said.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration has blocked Craker and defended the government's marijuana, saying its Mississippi facility provides the necessary quality and quantity for legitimate researchers. The DEA has said permitting other marijuana growers would lead to greater illegal use of the drug.

    Craker won a key victory in 2007 when a federal administrative law judge recommended to the DEA that it grant Craker's application to grow marijuana in bulk for use by scientists in government-approved research. In a nonbinding ruling, the judge said the government's supply was inadequate for medical research.

    But the DEA ruled against Craker in January 2009 in the waning days of the Bush administration. Craker hoped Obama administration officials would view his case more favorably, but his motion for the DEA to reconsider his case has languished.

    Craker and his attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union decided to drop their case.

    Craker said he's puzzled why the Obama administration has eased its policy toward states on medical marijuana but won't reconsider his request.
    "All we want to do is to produce the material that medical doctors want to use for tests," he said.

    Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In a move that energized the medical marijuana movement, the Obama administration has said it won't target medical marijuana patients or caregivers as long as they comply with state laws and aren't fronts for drug traffickers.

    Fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.
    In California, the state's landmark 1996 medical marijuana law allows users only to grow pot for themselves or obtain it from a designated primary caregiver.

    Pot dispensaries in California have operated largely free from interference by having users designate the dispensary as their primary caregiver.

    Craker has said much more research is needed to determine which types of marijuana can be medically beneficial and how the drug should be used.

    "It would be nice to be able to develop plant material that would be specific for glaucoma, specific to inhibit vomiting and all those other things that the plant is credited with doing," he said. "Currently, people with ailments are taking pot shots or they are going to illegal sources, which I suspect most of them are."

    The Associated Press
    March 04, 2011



  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Umass Professor calls it quits after a ten year request to grow medical marijuana

    Horticulturist and professor at UMass, Lyle Craker says he's disappointed in the system. In 2001, he submitted an application to the Drug Enforcement Administration seeking permission to grow medical marijuana in bulk at the University. Craker says he wanted to be able to grow it so that it could then be distributed to medical doctors for clinical trials. Ten years later, he's no closer to his goal. The DEA says, facilities like the one Craker has proposed would lead to greater illegal use of the drug.

    Craker says "They are looking at it believing anyone growing any kind of marijuana is solely for recreational purposes and there is no medicinal value. So, they've been very forceful on this."

    But, Craker disagrees. Saying, if he had been allowed to grow marijuana it would have been under tight security.

    Craker says "That would all be locked. There would be cameras, video cameras to monitor who went in and who went out. There would be special locks for only certain combinations or finger prints who would be allowed in. So, I think we were well versed on how to keep this material from getting to anybody else."

    But, with no end in sight, Craker says it's best to drop the case. He says who he really feel sorry for are the people who write to him about their terminally sick loved ones whose only source of comfort comes from marijuana.

    Craker "I feel sorry for those people because they ask me, why do I have to go to a back alley to get medicine. And, that's a good question I think."

    Currently there are 15 states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

    By Justine Judge
    Story Published: Mar 4, 2011


    NOTE: there is a brief tv news story embedded on the story linked above.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    an email via MAPS:

    Scientist Files Final Brief in 10-Year
    Fight with DEA to Grow Marijuana for Research

    For nearly a decade, MAPS has been challenging the federal government's monopoly on marijuana for research by supporting one scientist's efforts to start his own marijuana farm. Yesterday, that scientist and his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union and Washington, D.C., law firm Jenner & Block submitted their final brief in their marathon lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Right now, a lab at the University of Mississippi is the only facility in the U.S. with a license to grow marijuana for research. Any scientist who proposes a study of marijuana must purchase it from this lab, whether they're interested in its risks or in its medical uses. Unfortunately, the National Institute on Drug Abuse—which funds the lab and therefore decides which studies get marijuana and which do not—only supports research into the potential harms of marijuana. That makes it practically impossible to do the research with the greatest potential for helping actual patients.

    The only way to change the situation is to end NIDA's monopoly, which is exactly what MAPS and Professor Lyle Craker, Director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, have been trying to do for nearly ten years. We're expecting the FDA to allow us to proceed with our proposed study of the safety and effectiveness of smoked and/or vaporized marijuana for PTSD in war veterans, and NIDA (and its parent agency the Public Health Service) are the only ones standing in its way.


    And the related Press Release:
    UMass Professor Files Final DEA Brief in 10-Year Fight to End Government’s Monopoly on Marijuana for Research

    Brad Burge MAPS Communication and Education Associate Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (831) 429-6362 x103 brad@maps.org
    Lyle Craker, Ph.D. Director, Medicinal Plant Program University of Massachusetts-Amherst (413) 545-2347 craker@pssci.umass.edu

    On Monday, March 7, Professor Lyle Craker, Director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, filed the final brief in his ten-year fight to persuade the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow him to grow marijuana for medical research. Craker is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Washington, D.C., law firm Jenner & Block.

    Craker is seeking a license to grow marijuana under contract to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization whose mission includes developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. MAPS and Craker are working to end the government’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research in order to open the door for privately funded studies.

    A lab at the University of Mississippi funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is currently the only facility in the U.S. permitted to grow marijuana for research. NIDA’s mandate only to fund research into the harms of marijuana has led to its refusal to provide marijuana to two MAPS-sponsored FDA-approved protocols, preventing them from taking place.

    On June 25, 2001, Craker applied for a DEA license to start a marijuana production facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to be funded by MAPS. On February 12, 2007, nearly six years after the DEA refused to grant him a license, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner issued an 87-page ruling stating that ending the NIDA monopoly was in the public interest and recommending that Craker’s request be granted.

    On January 14, 2009, after a two-year delay and just six days before Obama’s inauguration, Acting DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart rejected Bittner’s recommendation and denied the application. On January 30, 2009, Craker and his lawyers filed a Motion to Reconsider. On December 2, 2010, after yet another two-year delay, the Motion to Reconsider was denied. In the
    denial letter, the DEA offered Craker a chance to submit a final brief about the case. This final brief was submitted yesterday.

    Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. Ever since physicians in the 1970s began recognizing marijuana’s ability to relieve some of the suffering associated with AIDS and cancer chemotherapy, sponsors seeking to develop marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine have been blocked from conducting research, forcing them to use political means such as federal lobbying and state-based initiatives.

    Despite increasingly widespread recognition of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits from patients and state legislatures alike, the federal government still insists that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no medical value. By preventing research on the plant from moving forward, NIDA and the DEA are preventing patients from accessing the medicine they need.

    A new study by MAPS proposes to investigate the safety and effectiveness of smoked and/or vaporized marijuana for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in US war veterans. Although the Food and Drug Administration is likely to approve the protocol in the next several months, the study still needs to pass through the redundant NIDA/Public Health Service review process that exists only because of NIDA’s monopoly. Past experience with the NIDA/PHS review process suggests that permission to conduct the research is unlikely to be forthcoming.

    In 1992, former DEA Administrator Richard Bonner offered this suggestion: “Those who insist that marijuana has medical uses would serve society better by promoting or sponsoring more legitimate scientific research, rather than throwing their time, money, and rhetoric into lobbying, public relations campaigns, and perennial litigation.”

    Craker’s legal brief is the latest attempt by scientists to facilitate privately-funded medical marijuana research. Unfortunately, current DEA officials are likely to block scientific research for political reasons, and will almost certainly reject Bittner’s 2007 recommendation. The case could then continue in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and provide ample justification for future state-level reform efforts.

    Brad Burge Communication and Education Associate Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies 831-429-6362 x 103 brad@maps.org
    Lyle Craker, Ph.D. Director, Medicinal Plant Program University of Massachusetts-Amherst (413) 545-2347 craker@pssci.umass.edu
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