DEA Judges Ruling Could Help Medical Marijuana Research

DEA judge’s ruling could help medical marijuana research

The federal government’s system for evaluating requests for marijuana for clinical study has hindered investigation of the drug’s safety and effectiveness, the opinion states.

By: Amy Lynn Sorrel, AMNews staff.
Printed in the American Medical News on 19 March, 2007.

A decision last month by a Drug Enforcement Administration judge could make way for a scientific answer to the controversial question of whether medical marijuana should be made available as a prescription drug, proponents say.

In only the second ruling of its kind, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner found that it would be in the public interest to allow a university researcher to grow cannabis in a licensed facility for use in privately funded, government-approved studies to test its potential clinical benefits.

As a schedule I controlled substance, cannabis can be researched only with federal approval. With the National Institute on Drug Abuse in control of the supply for U.S. studies, some doctors and scientists worry that the government’s tight grip may be stifling the kind of research used to test other drugs with therapeutic possibilities.

In 2005, scientist Lyle E. Craker, PhD, a professor in the department of plant and soil sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, appealed the DEA’s denial of his application for a schedule I license to grow research-grade cannabis for private medical studies.

In her nonbinding decision, Bittner recommended that Dr. Craker’s application be granted. She ruled the existing supply of marijuana inadequate for legitimate research.

“NIDA’s system for evaluating requests for marijuana for research has resulted in some researchers who hold DEA registrations and requisite approval from the Dept. of Health and Human Services being unable to conduct their research because NIDA has refused to provide them with marijuana,” the 87-page opinion states.

Back to MAPS Homepage American Medical News published an article about MAPS’ recent legal victory in our quest for a medical marijuana production facility.