Reflections on legalizing marijuana

Originally appeared at: Proposition 19’s failure at the polls makes it that much more important to facilitate research into the benefits and harms of marijuana in order to properly assess the utility of cannabis. At present, researchers have to contend with a monopoly over the marijuana supply held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse whose mission is to study the harmful effects of illicit drugs. This disqualifies them as objective judges as to whom to provide marijuana to for U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved studies. To clarify the efficacy of our existing medical marijuana law we need to facilitate research through breaking NIDA’s monopoly over the marijuana supply for FDA studies by putting pressure on the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue another marijuana cultivation license. To give our representatives the courage to push for expanding marijuana research, they can look to DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner who found that it would be in the public interest to issue Dr. Lyle E. Craker at University of Massachusetts, Amherst a license to cultivate cannabis. Acting DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart has rejected this recommendation. It’s time we ask why she chose to uphold an obstructive federal monopoly in order to bring this issue from the political to the scientific sphere. Stephen Morseman Another letter by Stephen Morseman in response to the failure or proposition 19 in California.