Since 2001, MAPS has worked with Professor Craker at UMass Amherst to try to obtain a license for our own production facility of marijuana for FDA-approved research. NIDA currently has a monopoly on cannabis production for research purposes, and the DEA has been protecting that monopoly, which fundamentally obstructs drug development research for a number of reasons.
President Obama has recently nominated Michelle Leonhart as the new DEA Administrator, which will complicate the fate of our marijuana drug development efforts. Since 2004, Leonhart has been the Acting Deputy Administrator of the DEA, after being appointed by President Bush. Although she had several jobs, shes been in a leadership role at DEA, and has been behind the crackdown on the state medical marijuana patients, growers, and providers. Most significantly, she rejected the February 12, 2007, recommendation of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who found that it would be in the public interest for Professor Craker to receive a DEA license for the production of marijuana for research.
Professor Crakers lawyers have filed a motion to reconsider to Michele Leonhart, with her response still pending. President Obamas nomination of her to be the Administrator of the DEA is not encouraging, even though President Obama has also ordered his Attorney General Eric Holder to stop the DEA raids on cannabis dispensaries in states that allow medical marijuana, so long as they are operating in compliance with state law. Were hoping that opening the door to scientific research is something that President Obama, his senior staff, members of Congress, and members of the Senate confirmation hearing will understand is a priority principle that Michele Leonhart needs to share to be confirmed as the next Administrator of DEA.
We expect the senate confirmation hearings to take place in the next month or two. We strongly encourage people to contact their Senators about the Michelle Leonhart confirmation, saying that she should not be confirmed unless theres a pledge to accept the recommendation of the Administrative Law Judge, or a pledge to facilitate medical marijuana research and not protect the NIDA monopoly.