Marijuana Research a New Field at UMass?

Sat, 17 Feb 2007
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)

What a long, strange trip it’s been for Lyle E. Craker, a professor
at the University of Massachusetts who wants to grow marijuana for
medical research.

An administrative law judge recommended on Monday that the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration allow Craker to grow high-grade marijuana
on the Amherst campus.

Here again is a brief history of Craker’s frustrating efforts to
study marijuana, beginning in June 2001 when he applied to the DEA
for a permit:

The DEA said first that it had lost his application.

Later, the DEA said he had not filled out the forms correctly.

When that failed, the DEA sent two DEA agents to the Amherst campus
to discourage university officials.

And, finally, the DEA rejected his application.

Craker appealed, launching a process that eventually ended with the
recommendation on Monday by Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who said that
granting the permit would be in the public interest.

The DEA objects to Craker’s research because it fears the marijuana
will fall into the hands of young people who will turn into potheads.
For a federal government that has waged a decades-long war on illegal
drugs with little success, it must be painful to admit that marijuana
might have some value as a prescription drug.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Neurology,
patients given marijuana said it eased their HIV-related foot pain
known as peripheral neuropathy. There are no approved drugs to
specifically treat that kind of pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration counters that there are few
sound studies to support the medical use of marijuana. That’s because
the DEA is blocking the studies, and very little federal funding is
available in this research field.

Without the sort of research that Craker proposes, it is unlikely
we’ll ever know how many uses might be found for marijuana.

Craker’s journey isn’t over yet. The judge’s ruling on Monday is not
binding, and a decision will eventually be made by the head of the
DEA, Karen Tandy.

No more smokescreens, please.

Back to MAPS Homepage