Medical Marijuana Research Update: March 2007

In light of our recent hard-won victory in Prof. Craker’s lawsuit against the DEA, we’re ramping up for a lobbying campaign of unprecedented significance and scale. MAPS must show DEA that there is substantial public support for scientific freedom in marijuana research. Thats why MAPS is coordinating a lobbying campaign aimed at pressuring DEA to actually accept Judge Bittner’s recommended ruling.

On March 26, DEA’s lawyers will submit their critique to DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner’s recommended ruling that DEA grant a Schedule I license to Prof. Lyle Craker for his proposed MAPS-sponsored marijuana production facility. On May 4, our lawyers will submit a reply to the DEA lawyers’ critique, and then within a few weeks the ALJ will formally submit her recommendation and the dueling comments from the two legal teams to DEA. The DEA has an unlimited amount of time to make a final ruling.

MAPS has already utilized over $250,000 in resources to help Prof. Craker win his lawsuit against DEA, mostly in the form of pro bono legal services. Now, we must harness the momentum from this victory to demonstrate to DEA that the public wants to see the safety and efficacy of marijuana determined by rigorous scientific research, not by the vested political interests of NIDA and DEA. The opportunity to resolve the controversy over medical marijuana through FDA-approved clinical trials hangs in the balance.

We estimate that the odds of prevailing over DEA are 2-1 against us — in other words, more favorable than many of MAPS’ long-shot efforts. Even if we lose, we win in some important ways. If the DEA rejects the ALJ’s recommendation, it will highlight DEA obstruction of FDA-approved research and will help build support for state-level medical marijuana reform efforts.

Last week, our lobbying campaign received a big boost with news that MAPS has been awarded a grant of $45,000 from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be formulating a strategy. Then, well ask MAPS members and many others to contact their Congressional legislators to request that they write to DEA urging the agency to accept the ALJ’s recommendation.