WASHINGTON – An unusual alliance that includes liberal New York congressmen and one of President Bush’s most powerful conservative advisers is trying to bust a government monopoly on growing marijuana for research.
Several medical groups, the United Methodist Church and 38 members of Congress, including Manhattan Democrats Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, are backing activist Rick Doblin’s call for the feds to allow privately funded scientists to test medical marijuana.
Doblin argues that the sole lab growing weed for government research at the University of Mississippi is not looking into different strains and different potencies. And he’s received important backing from Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a National Rifle Association board member, who is also urging licensing of the first privately funded program.
“The bipartisan support is important,” said Doblin, head of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
But it may not be enough for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which contends the Mississippi lab can provide enough weed to researchers studying the healing capacity of medical marijuana for people with AIDS, glaucoma and other ailments. The lawyers also question whether privately funded labs will keep the pot from the streets.
Doblin is teaming with botanist Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts plant scientist with no history of involvement in the legalization movement. Craker argued at DEA hearings earlier this month that his project would provide researchers with multiple strains of marijuana with varying potency levels.
The DEA will decide in the next several months whether to grant a license to grow research pot.