Join Together: Researchers Seek New Source of Marijuana

Join Together

Saying the research-grade marijuana grown by the federal government is low-quality, researchers are asking a federal judge to allow others to legally produce pot for scientific studies, the Washington Post reported Dec. 12.

For the last 36 years, the University of Mississippi has had sole federal authority to grow marijuana for research. But scientists have long complained about the poor quality of marijuana produced by the school under the supervision of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Lyle Craker is part of a group that has asked an administrative-law judge to break the government’s marijuana monopoly; Craker has volunteered to grow his own marijuana for research if the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would allow it.

“Our work is focused on finding medicinal uses of plants, and marijuana is one with clear potential,” said Craker. “There’s only one government-approved source of marijuana for scientific research in this country, and that just isn’t adequate.”

The DEA and NIDA oppose granting a license to anyone else to grow marijuana, saying it could lead to more drug use. The agencies also contend that the Mississippi program already supplies all the marijuana needed by researchers.

“By controlling who can research marijuana and how they can do it, the DEA has greatly limited promising research that could lead to [government] approved medications,” said researcher Richard Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, who led the effort to challenge the policy in court. “I believe the DEA policy is one of delay, and they’ve succeeded in essentially blocking marijuana development for 30 years.”

Even if the judge agrees with Doblin and Craker, however, the DEA will not be forced to grant a license to grow marijuana or change its policies.