January 19, 2009
THE US Drug Enforcement Administration dealt a major blow to science with its decision to preserve the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for FDA-approved research (“UMass loses marijuana lab bid,” Health/Science, Jan. 13). The decision is an inappropriate injection of political ideology into what should properly be a question of science.
Pharmaceutical companies interested in making marijuana a prescription medicine are stopped dead in their tracks by the institute’s monopoly. If a company gained access to the institute’s tightly guarded stash, spent millions on research, and obtained FDA approval, it would then be forced to pay the institute’s supplier whatever the asking price. As a result, not a single company is investing in marijuana research.
Thirteen states have been forced to turn to the political process to provide patients with the medical use of marijuana. Prompted by the DEA’s support for the institute’s monopoly, that number will surely grow.
Sick people who prefer to get their medicine from the corner pharmacy, not the corner dealer, are hoping that Obama’s DEA will bring an end to this farce.
The writer is president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.