U.S. First Circuit Court Upholds NIDA Monopoly on Marijuana for Research

On April 15, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected University of Massachusetts-Amherst Prof. Lyle Craker’s lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration for denying him a license to grow marijuana for privately funded medical research. With its decision, the Court has ensured that the debate over the medical use of marijuana will continue to take place through political battles rather than through scientific research. In 2007, A DEA Administrative Law Judge, after two weeks of testimony, recommended that it would be in the public interest for DEA to issue a license to Prof. Craker, but DEA rejected that recommendation. The decision brings to an end Craker’s 12-year effort to end the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research. A laboratory at the University of Mississippi under contract to the National Institute on Drug Abuse is currently the only facility in the U.S. permitted to grow marijuana for research. Prior to Craker’s application, NIDA had refused to sell marijuana to two FDA- and Institutional Review Board-approved protocols sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), preventing them from taking place. In September 2011, NIDA refused to sell marijuana to a third FDA-approved MAPS-sponsored protocol in 50 U.S. veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).