NIDA Admits to Not Having Marijuana Required for Research, Causing More Delays for PTSD Study

On April 17, 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) informed MAPS that it does not have the marijuana needed for our study. This was completely unexpected as it contradicts NIDA’s written claim over three years ago that they did have a supply of marijuana containing the balanced THC/CBD ratio needed for our study. We designed our protocol around that variety in order to gather information about the relative risks and benefits of THC and CBD in veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD.

NIDA’s written statement three years ago that it could supply us with the marijuana we requested was very convenient for the agency. NIDA’s claim was the reason we lost our lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for rejecting a DEA Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation that it would be in the public interest for the DEA to license University of Massachusetts Prof. Lyle Craker to grow marijuana under contract to MAPS for federally regulated research. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals accepted NIDA’s and the DEA’s claims that NIDA had an adequate supply.

On May 9, after a three-week delay, NIDA informed us that they will have to grow the marijuana we need for our protocol and that it will not be available until sometime in the fall of 2014, on an unknown date and at an unknown price. NIDA is required under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to provide a “continuous and uninterrupted supply” of marijuana for research, which they have now admitted to failing to provide. NIDA is currently the only source of marijuana legal for use in federally regulated research.

On March 14, MAPS finally received permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health Service (PHS) reviewers, after 22 years trying to obtain marijuana for federally approved medical marijuana drug development research. It now looks like there will be another delay of at least half a year while we wait for NIDA to produce the marijuana we need for our study.