DEA rejects professor’s bid to grow marijuana
By Marcella Bombardieri,
Boston Globe Staff | December 14, 2004
A University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor hoping to grow marijuana for research purposes got a preliminary denial from the US Drug Enforcement Administration last week.
Lyle Craker, a horticulturist who specializes in medicinal plants, had won support from both Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry in his quest to grow marijuana legally. Only one American lab, at the University of Mississippi, currently has the legal right to grow marijuana for research, and Craker argued that the Mississippi marijuana is not strong enough and not readily available to researchers.
He first applied to the DEA for permission to grow marijuana more than three years ago. Kennedy and Kerry wrote a letter to the DEA last year saying that the Mississippi lab had an ”unjustified monopoly.”
Craker and a group that wants to fund his work, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, sued the government last summer. One of their arguments was that the DEA’s failure to act on the application was an ”unreasonable delay.”
The US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., asked the government to explain its delay, and instead DEA issued a decision last week. In the decision, DEA said that the University of Mississippi provides researchers ”marijuana of sufficient quantity and quality to meet all their legitimate and authorized research needs in a timely manner.”
It also argues that an international treaty says the government can allow only one source for research marijuana.Craker and MAPS can still appeal to a federal administrative judge who makes recommendations to the DEA, but the judge’s opinion is not binding, said MAPS president Rick Doblin.
If unsuccessful, they plan to continue their fight in the courts.
Doblin said the DEA sat on Craker’s application for so long because officials lacked valid arguments to stop Craker’s work.Craker’s hope is to grow a potent strain of marijuana, under heavy security, and then make the plant available to scientists.
”The sky is not going to come crashing down if they approve this,” Craker said. ”What they would get is some good science, and they need that.”
Marcella Bombardieri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An article in the Boston Globe gives background to the DEA rejection of the UMass Amherst project and explains the legal pressure that forced DEA to act, the DEA’s obstruction of research, and political support for the license.