Originally appeared at: http://www.thecalifornian.com/article/20101030/OPINION03/10300329/Prop-19-affects-medicinal-uses The Californian’s Oct. 22 editorial, “Proposition 19 blows smoke; vote no” raises good points on the marijuana legalization initiative but fails to grapple with the peripheral effects Proposition 19 could have on medical marijuana patients. What the marijuana debate needs is an emphasis on making marijuana an FDA-approved drug covered by insurance companies. At present, research aimed at moving marijuana through the FDA’s three-phase clinical trial process is obstructed by a federal monopoly over the marijuana supply for FDA studies. This monopoly is held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA must approve all applicants for research materials, but because NIDA’s mission is to achieve zero drug use, it is not objective in deciding which studies are approved. As such, there should be an alternative source of marijuana for researchers. A DEA law judge recommends that a DEA license to cultivate marijuana be given to Dr. Lyle Craker at UMASS Amherst. Unfortunately, acting DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart rejected this ruling. To preserve the legitimacy medical marijuana has made, urge our senators to question Leonhart at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee as to why she upheld an obstructive federal monopoly. MAPS Medical Marijuana Campaign Coordinator Stephen Morseman explains to readers why the FDA should evaluate marijuana as a medicine and how the NIDA monopoly is obstructing research.